As a kid, watching Hocus Pocus was one of my favorite Halloween traditions. It still warms my heart today when I run across the movie flipping through channels. Enough that I generally stop what I'm doing, sit down, and watch at least once every October. (OK, I may fold some laundry while watching, but a glass of red wine is also required if so.) Now that I have kids of my own, I'd like to share the tradition with them, but is Hocus Pocus too scary for kids under 5?
Although I personally never felt scared by the movie, I didn't watch until I was much older than my kids are now at 4 and 3 years old. So, I decided to do a little research to see how others weighed in, and many sources do say that Hocus Pocus is a little too scary for kids under 5. If we're being technical, the movie is rated "PG," which means kids under 17 can watch with parental guidance. So the movie rating doesn't give much help aside from conveying it's a decision best left up to individual families and parents. Parent Co., however, sorted the best Halloween movies by kids' ages, and Hocus Pocus fell in the "pre-teens and up" category in this case.
That's not the final say though, because there are, surprisingly, a lot of mixed opinions on what age is best for the movie and if it's really a good one for young kids. Hollywood Reporter rated the movie as on of the top 18 kid-friendly scary films for Halloween. But it did also point out it's a good idea to consider the plot of the movie before making your own decision.
The movie circles around three evil Salem witches who were burned at the stake but end up being resurrected by a group of kids snooping around their old, abandoned house. They want to kill the children as a show of gratitude, which is a little morbid. But with the assistance of a magical black cat, however, the kids work together to take the witches' book of spells and prevent them from becoming immortal.
Overall, the movie is a little creepy, but from my point of view, it's mostly funny and follows the path of typical kids getting into some Halloween trouble, which isn't a necessarily bad storyline for little kids. It seems the best age compromise for the Hocus Pocus, as listed by Common Sense Media, is 11, ultimately. That doesn't mean that it's automatically too scary for all kids under 5, though.
This film is honestly one that's best left to the discretion of parents. If your child is much younger than 3, chances are they won't comprehend what's going on enough to be scared by it. There are no gory or inappropriate scenes that would warrant turning it off. If your child is 3 or 4, however, you're the best person to answer whether or not they would enjoy it.
For example, I predict that my 4-year-old daughter would get a kick out of the movie and wouldn't be scared by it at all. My 3-year-old son, on the other hand, is a different story. I don't think he would necessarily enjoy or even watch the full movie, but if he were to, he tends to take things more literal than his sister. At which point, he may be a little scared that three witches are running around our town looking for little kids. So as you can see, the movie is rated PG for a reason. And if you feel it's a good fit, with your presence of course, for your little ones, it's a great tradition to take advantage of this Halloween.
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