Now Scream This: 10 Great Horror Movies About Children In Peril

(Welcome to Now Scream This, a column where horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato tell you what scary, spooky, and spine-tingling movies are streaming and where you can watch them.)

Matt: This week, in "honor" of upcoming Conjurverse entry The Curse of La Llorona, Chris and I are dishing on children in peril. Kiddos who've been offered at the altar of horror cinema as possible sacrifices, targets, or possession vessels. It's generally a golden rule that underage genre characters are eventually spared or saved, but let's not forget titles like Feast or The Children. Hopefully everything turns out alright for the youths in our picks unlike their parents, protectors, or doomed saviors. What? These are still horror movies – martyrdom is considered a happy ending around these parts.

Chris: I don't want to badmouth a movie most people haven't seen yet, but if you're in the mood for some good kids-in-peril horror...maybe skip The Curse of La Llorona next week. Instead, why not watch the movies below that Matt and I have compiled? Especially the ones I picked. You can skip the ones Matt suggested. Go ahead, he'll never know!

The Babysitter

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: I know what you're thinking. A McG-directed teenage horror comedy Netflix Original? Brian Duffield's screenplay received Black List attention in 2014 before landing on the juggernaut streaming platform a few years later, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The Babysitter represents one half of Samara Weaving's 2017 coming out party coupled with "Officesploitation" aggressor Mayhem. She is, sans argument, built to play the sweet-as-pie wolf in sheep's clothing who can get *nasty* when unleashed. There's no denying that McG plays more towards laughs, as child Cole (Judah Lewis) must defend against his smokin' nanny's demonic cult (Robbie Amell, Hana Mae Lee, Robbie Amell, Andrew Bachelor, Bella Thorne). Cue plenty of shirtless (and hilarious) Amell, Weaving's deceptive girl-next-store wicked streak, and a surprisingly entertaining midnight watch with far more going on than expected. Might make a nice double-bill with Better Watch Out?

Chris: I know Matt swears this is good, but I refuse to watch it based on the trailer alone. A trailer so bad it actually gave me the plague (I got better).

Under The Shadow

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: Babak Anvari's Under The Shadow exploits 1980's Iraq-Iran conflict by heightening a mother's already impossible task of protecting family during wartime chaos with an evil Djinn presence. Daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) keeps telling Shideh (Narges Rashidi) about a woman who visits her, although the stealthy guest is not of our world. Complexities are the devil in Under The Shadow's details, as Anvari plots out tremors that shake Shideh's world from multiple angles of dread. It's a bit of a slow-burn tease so prepare yourself appropriately, but payoffs are that of haunted Tehran apartment amidst bombing raids and period restrictions. Know that going in, and you'll be able to appreciate horrors of a foreign perspective rooted in cultures not often explored in stateside cinematic endeavors. The power of representation, breathing life into otherwise recognizable subgenres.

Chris: A spooky slow-burner that takes what is a typical ghost story and projects through the lens of different culture, creating something unique in the process.

A Quiet Place

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime

Matt: For how prolific a year 2018's representation of parental fears became with each passing film, A Quiet Place provoked early notoriety with a thematically resounding bang despite muted technical treatments. Earth is invaded by feral alien berzerkers attracted to sound, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt fight to keep decibel levels silent, and sound design punishes with each revealed position. Krasinski doesn't consider himself a "horror aficionado," but that doesn't track given the tension and dread woven into each farmland survival scenario. Effortlessly emotional and devastatingly demanding when it comes to youngsters Millicent Simmonds or Noah Jupe fleeing for their lives away from otherworldly threats. Not just a gimmick concept – the whole package when it comes to the horrors of grief, family, and apocalyptic invasion.

Chris: This is one slick movie, and I had no idea John Krasinski had something like this in him. The script is tight, the chills are effective, and there's a scene near the end that makes me cry.

Among The Living

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: When Shudder first announced their desire to stream "Exclusives" and "Originals," I knew horror fans would be in good hands. At the onset, programmers made it evident that subscribers would be treated to festival gems lost and found again such as Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury's Among The Living. Part slasher, part adolescent discovery, part haunted house blueprint. After premiering during SXSW 2014, the film sat around caught in distribution red tape – but Shudder cut right through to confirm its stance as a promoter of the lesser known, undervalued, and never to be tossed aside. Bustillo and Maury ditch punishing brutality for a spell as children explore what they most certainly should not, only for signature savage notes to strike as tonality shifts form Stephen King overtones to invasive parental nightmare fuel. A multi-headed beast that refuses to be defined, which might have presented a marketing challenge that delayed distribution for so long. Perfect for a Shudder stream, where it can be appreciated by those who'll dig it most.

Chris: There was a second there where I thought this was going to be another Matt pick I hadn't seen. But no! I have seen this! And it's fun. It's like a New French Extremity take on an Amblin movie.

Child’s Play

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime

Matt: Those familiar with Don Mancini and Chucky's legacy understand you can't keep a Good Guy down. Multiple sequels, pop culture adoration, now a remake and television show? There's a reason why Chucky's still slaying with the best some 30 years later, and it all starts with Tom Holland's 1988 Child's Play. The movie that made Brad Dourif's voice an instant icon as far as slasher fandom goes, introducing a voodoo killer trapped inside an ageless plastic doll form. Poor Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) just wanted a new best friend for Christmas – instead he got Chicago's most infamous serial killer, a lifetime of trauma, and the beginning of what's now become horror legend.

Chris: One of the things Matt and I have in common is our undying love for Child's Play, and all-things Chucky. We've even both come around to begrudgingly admitting the remake might not be so bad. But please don't tell Don Mancini we said that.

The Shining

Now Streaming on Hulu

Chris: I feel a bit like a basic bitch picking The Shining. But sometimes you just want to kick back and watch a rock star play the hits. Stanley Kubrick's chilly adaptation of Stephen King's novel is the ultimate kid-in-peril story, with psychic Danny Torrance having to deal with the malevolent spirits at the Overlook Hotel, and also his bonkers father. Kubrick ignores most of the themes King introduced involving alcoholism, addiction, and family violence. Instead, he was far more interested in claustrophobia, and the sense of being trapped in a place and a situation that's slowly spiraling out of control. Even if you've watched this hundreds of times (and you probably have), The Shining never gets old. Or I suppose you could watch the terrible miniseries adaptation with Steven Webber. In any case, it's time to rewatch The Shining now, since the sequel – Doctor Sleep – is arriving this November.

Matt: You need some prime child endangerment, look no further. You know the movie, why not watch it once more for a waltz down memory lane?

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: After the lackluster box office of Halloween III: Season of the Witch (which is a great movie), franchise produce Moustapha Akkad realized audiences wanted Michael Myers back. So the Shape slipped on his mask, picked up his knife, and headed back to Haddonfield to rack up another body count with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. The big twist here is that Michael's target is a young child – his niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris). Sure, there are plenty of dumb teens for Michael to hack-up along the way, but it;'s Jamie he wants. And poor Danielle Harris goes through hell, shrieking and running, in constant peril. Under all this is a dark, but not fully explored, subplot suggesting that evil is something that runs through the Myers bloodline, and that Jamie might one day inherit her uncle's murderous ways. As usual, Donald Pleasence is on hand to lend class as Dr. Loomis, who is really fed up with having to deal with this Halloween shit.

Matt: I got to walk the Halloween Horror Nights maze for Halloween 4 and had a blast dodging costumed Michael's swiping fake daggers my way – maybe a little more than I enjoyed the movie?

When a Stranger Calls Back

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Chris: Have you checked the children? When a Stranger Calls Back is a sequel to the 1979 horror film When a Stranger Calls, and it's mostly just a remake of the first film, with a few unique twists. You've likely heard the urban legend about the babysitter who keeps getting threatening phone calls, only to learn the calls are coming from inside the house! When a Stranger Calls brought that story to life, with Carol Kane playing the babysitter who ran afoul of a crazed killer. In this film, Kane's former babysitter is now a counselor trying to help a young woman named Julia (Jill Schoelen) who went through a similar experience. Julia also received threatening calls while babysitting, and found they were coming from inside the house. The caller abducted the kids in Julia's care, and the missing children were never found again. Five years go by, and Julia remains haunted by the experience. And things are about to get worse, as the killer is still out there. This is low-budget horror that gets by on some genuinely clever, creepy moments.

Matt: Congrats, Chris. You've found one I haven't seen. I'm here for anything with Carol Kane!

Summer of 84

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: Summer of 84 is cut from the same cloth as Stranger Things – Spielbergian and Amblin-inspired horror set firmly in the 1980s. It's not as well produced as that Netflix series, and the cast of characters isn't as memorable. But what Summer of 84 has going for it is a surprising darkness. The kids in this movie really are in peril, and some of them are in danger of meeting bloody ends. The story centers on a group of friends who begin to suspect a local cop (Rich Sommer) is a serial killer. No one believes them, of course, so the kids decide to take things into their own hands. What could go wrong?

Matt says: Summer of 84 is predictable when it comes to suburbia gone sour, but I'm here for the performances (less the script). A meaner, more immature Stranger Things nostalgia riff that gets nasty when it counts.

Monster House

Now Streaming on Netflix

Chris: A charming, creepy, entertaining animated film that owes a great deal to the work of Ray Bradbury, Monster House follows a group of young friends who believe the spooky house in their neighborhood is alive. Alive and hungry. The kids want to destroy the house before Halloween arrives, so it won't gobble up hapless trick-or-treaters. Visually appealing, spooky but not too scary (if you want to show it to kids), Monster House is the type of fun family-horror that doesn't get made often enough.

Matt: Monster House and Paranorman make for a brilliant "Intro To Horror" double feature for young soon-to-be genre fans!