5 Beloved Children's Films That Are Secretly Terrifying

Almost any movie can be turned into a horror story, even the family-friendly ones. The Death Star's explosion left a lot of widows and traumatized children, and any talking dog movie brings up a whole host of existential nightmares. Sometimes the implications are so disturbing that you have to wonder if the filmmakers are closet sociopaths ... or if we are for noticing this stuff in the first place.

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5
Monsters, Inc. Is Horrifying From Boo's Parents' Perspective

Are you tired of your kids or younger relatives insisting on seeing Monsters, Inc. over and over again? Here's an easy solution: Ask them to imagine the movie from the point of view of Boo's parents. There, now they'll never want to watch it, or any movie, ever again.

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We know that our cultured audience is well-versed in this movie's story, but here's a quick refresher for your less-educated friends. Monsters, Inc. is set in Monstropolis, whose day corresponds to North America's night -- Sulley and Mike clock in, work a shift scaring part of the human world, then go home to watch monster basketball or whatever. There's no magic or time travel involved, and as proof, we cite the scene wherein our heroes are chased through the doors used for scaring, and go through both day and night in different corners of the Earth.

Pixar

Pixar

Pixar

PixarParis, France to Paris, Texas

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We also know that time passes at the same rate in both worlds. When Mike and Sulley are banished, they have to trek down the Himalayas, and when they get back to their world, time has advanced. So one minute in our world is one minute in the monster world, and we don't care how much fanfiction you throw at us that says otherwise.

PixarNot even Monstropolis is free of the horror of daylight savings.

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With that in mind, the cute, whimsical Monsters, Inc. is the worst possible nightmare for the parents of Boo, the little girl who enters the monster world. She arrives at the end of Sulley's shift, which is dawn on Earth. Imagine her parents waking up, going to check on their precious toddler ... and she's gone. Just gone. There are no signs of forced entry, no demands from a kidnapper. Police would have absolutely nothing to go on. If anything, they'd probably suspect Mom and Dad. The best theory anyone would be able to come up with would be an ultra-specific rapture.

And then, 12-24 hours later, she's back in bed. There's still no explanation or clues. She's babbling about a big furry monster and a giant eyeball, but she's too little to be coherent and no one would believe her anyway. She'd be national news. Conspiracy theories would abound, and the parents would be accused of faking the affair for attention while trying to deal with their very genuine trauma. No one would ever get closure, and Boo will have a weird life when she learns about all the fuss that was made over her. Imagine her at 45, still wondering if those bizarre faint memories are real or not. Monsters University better teach students the whole damn story as a cautionary tale.

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4
That New Beauty And The Beast Scene Which Casually Wrecks An Old Man's Entire Life

The main goal of the Beauty And The Beast remake was seemingly to cram as much unnecessary trauma into the story as possible. First there was the pointless reveal that Belle's mom died of the plague and then, as CinemaBlend's Eric Eisenberg pointed out, we find out that Mr. Potts is living a horror story that makes dementia look relaxing. For those of you who have already forgotten the finer points of this movie, which is all of you, Mr. Potts is a friendly townsperson who's having trouble with his memory.

Walt Disney PicturesAnd his sense of fashion.

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At first, his throwaway comment feels like an old person being old, but then we learn what he's been forgetting. The same Enchantress who turned the Prince into Beast of the X-Men also used magic to force the townspeople to forget the Prince's castle and its residents. This includes Mr. Potts' wife and son, who became part of a living tea set. Anytime he tries to think of them, a wall goes up in his mind. It's like knowing you recognize a song, but can't remember its name, except that itch lasts for a decade and also you're devastatingly alone.

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So let's forget Belle and the Beast, and instead follow Mr. Potts through an average day. Does he wonder why he owns so many children's toys and brassieres? Does his bed feel empty at night? Does he own any family portraits, and does he look like he's hugging the air in them? Does he have the nagging sense that he used to buy far more food? Does he regret not marrying and having children? Does he ever look at a tea set and weep for no reason? Every day of his life would be like day one after deaths in the family, except he's never quite sure what's going on. It's incredible that he's even sane.

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Mr. Potts ostensibly gets a happy ending when the curse is broken and his family is restored ...

Walt Disney Pictures

Walt Disney Pictures

... but that falls apart the moment you start thinking about it. He's aged a decade, but his wife and son haven't -- no one who was transformed did. So he lost out on ten years with his family, and maybe the sudden age difference is a massive strain on their relationship. It would be weird enough for your spouse or dad to suddenly be a decade older, but imagine a family trying to go back to normal when one person's coming out of a memory fog and the other two have had tea served out of them for years. That's some seriously twisted collective punishment, Enchantress.

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3
That Time Spider-Man's Mary Jane Makes Out With A Total Stranger In An Alley

In Spider-Man: Homecoming: This Time We're Going To Keep The Franchise On The Rails, We Swear To God, Peter Parker's love interest, Liz, mentions that she has a crush on Spider-Man. Then, because no one knows who he is or what he looks like, her fellow high-schoolers quite rightfully point out that he could be a creep who's way, way older than her. With that in mind, let's revisit this scene from 2002's Spider-Man: Two Out Of Three's Not Bad, Right?

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Peter Parker's love interest, Mary Jane, gets surrounded by a roving gang of comic book rapists, one of whom inexplicably barks at her. Spider-Man appears and beats them up, and while his face is revealed, he vanishes before Mary Jane can see it. Then he reappears with his mask back on, and after Mary Jane jokingly accuses him of being a superhero stalker, she rolls down half his mask and initiates the sloppy kiss that launched a thousand parodies.

Columbia PicturesFun fact: While making this scene, they didn't need to use fake rain. Their saliva was enough.

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To the audience, this makes perfect sense. We're watching a superhero movie, and we know that Parker is a good person who's Mary Jane's age. But what's going through MJ's mind? She doesn't know that she's the love interest in a story. All she knows is that 30 seconds ago, she was about to be sexually assaulted, and then, not for the first time, a mysterious dude in a gimp suit showed up and saved her. It's great that he helped, but maybe he's as bonkers as the guys he beat up. You've got to be at least a little unhinged to call yourself "Spider-Man" and go looking for violent trouble in the middle of a rainstorm. Or hey, maybe he's a great guy, but he's 45 and has a wife and kids. Does Mary Jane know she could be kissing an accountant named Gary who likes to build birdhouses on the weekend? But the script demands romance, so hey, she makes out with a latex-clad stranger in a dark rainy alley, like we are all wont to do.

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2
The Harry Potter Scene In Which An Old Man Is Tortured By A Little Boy

In the Harry Potter universe, the wizarding world realizes that animals are more intelligent than we give them credit for, and rewards them with torture. Dragons are used in blood sport, goats are romanced by old men, and animals are magically transformed into inanimate objects for a routine school lesson. This raises countless questions of morality and what it even means to be an animal, all of which take a back seat to an even more pressing problem.

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In that scene from Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, the kids are learning transfiguration and Ron is told to transform his rat, Scabbers, into a water goblet. Naturally, he Rons it up, and Scabbers becomes the type of animal-object hybrid that David Cronenberg must dream of every night. It squeaks in pain, and it clearly doesn't enjoy being a ... whatever it's called now. "Cut"? "Rap"?

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That's messed up enough on its own. While the animals are implicitly transformed back, it's reasonable to assume that suddenly being radically reshaped and unable to move comes with some long-term psychical and mental consequences. Oh, but there's more. Fans will recall that Scabbers isn't any old rat. He's later revealed to secretly be this dingus:

Warner Bros. PicturesSplinter's human form inspires a lot less respect than his animal one.

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That's Peter Pettigrew, and he's responsible for getting Harry's parents killed. He betrayed their trust, then went into hiding. As a rat. Which came to be owned by Ron. Who then turned him into an un-cup. Yeah, he's a villain, but being transformed into half-living, half-dead abomination by a dumbass kid must have been excruciating. Try to picture the cup with a full-sized, panicked human limb growing out of it instead of a tiny rat tail. Imagine the existential horror of being and not being at once. And let's not forget all of the times he must have seen Ron jerking it. Dude just had a bad time all around.

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1
That Part In The Lego Movie Where Life Is A Lie And God Is A Child

The Lego Movie was about as fun as a fundamentally soulless product spit out by the endless grind of capitalism's gears could have been, but the big plot twist is the kind of cosmic dread that keeps philosophers up at night. You see, it's eventually revealed that the Lego world we've been seeing exists in a human family's basement.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. PicturesPictured: every barefoot parent's nightmare.

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Emmet's (the Lego figure protagonist) reality was built by Will Ferrell, and his adventures have all been orchestrated by Ferrell's son, who's apparently really good at putting together elaborate musical numbers on a moment's notice. Emmet can, with great willpower, move and think independently ... but still, he is barely his own entity in a reality that could be totally annihilated by an overexcitable dog.

Warner Bros. PicturesThe face of a man witnessing an indifferent god.

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Now let's play a fun game where you imagine getting hit by a car and dying. You black out, then wake up not at the Pearly Gates, but in a basement that could really use a renovation. A giant child and his father are playing with everything you knew to be life -- your home, your loved ones, your pirate ship, all tiny and fragile in their hands. The entire universe as you knew it is just sitting on a crappy table. Then the child giant picks you up and drops you right back into the world. Maybe he gives you your old life back (the car that hit you was made of Silly Putty), or maybe you have a new life now. Either way, how do you face it?

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Everything bad that happens to you -- getting fired, your friends and family leaving you, just generally having a lousy day -- is decided by the whims of a child deity. Emmet learned that free will, along with life as he knows it, is a lie. How does he carry on? Once all the chaos of the movie ends and he returns to a normal life, he's going to go nuts thinking about it.

Warner Bros. PicturesEverything is pointless! Life has no meaning, And I'm going to scream!

And what does this mean for the long-term fate of Emmet's world? What happens when the kid grows up and gets bored of Lego? When he moves away, and Will Ferrell grows old and dies? How long does Emmet's universe exist before it's dismantled and the pieces get shoved into a closet for 20 years before finding their way to a garbage dump? Under the right circumstances, plastic can survive indefinitely. Is Emmet going to enjoy a few years of happiness and then spend eons buried alone in the dark beneath tons of trash? Time and death have no meaning to characters in The Lego Movie, yet their world is constantly teetering on the brink of a collapse that would make any sentient creature long for oblivion. It's only a matter of time before their world becomes an insane void of endless agony. (That Batman movie was pretty funny, though.)

Mark is on Twitter and has a book.

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