More Great PG and PG-13 Horror Movies

What goes through your mind when you hear that a new horror film is going to be rated PG-13? If you’re like most fans, that news will almost inevitably dampen your excitement for the movie. We’ve come to expect that most good genre films will be rated R, and understandably so. The majority of PG-13 horror movies are pretty bad, so it’s hard not to be at least a little wary when we come across a new member of this not-so-prestigious club.

That being said, we shouldn’t be so skeptical of these films that we dismiss them out of hand without even giving them a shot. As with many things, this is just a general rule of thumb, so there are plenty of exceptions. In fact, one of my first articles for Horror Obsessive was a list of five great PG and PG-13 horror movies, and that piece merely scratched the surface. I had to leave out a whole bunch of films that deserve to be on your radar, and in this article, I’d like to rectify that a bit. I want to revisit this topic, so without further ado, here are five more awesome PG and PG-13 horror films that are well worth a watch.


Gremlins singing

It doesn’t get much better in the PG and PG-13 horror world than Gremlins. This is one of the most beloved genre classics of all time, and it shows that you don’t need a ton of blood, sex, or swearing to have a horrifically good time. The movie’s titular monsters are an absolute blast, and when they descend upon an unassuming town around Christmas time, all hell breaks loose in the best way possible.

See, these creatures don’t just attack people and ruin their electronics. They also pack a movie theater and watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. They ring people’s doorbells and sing Christmas carols. And they trash a bar while smoking cigars and having a few drinks. In other words, they do a lot of the same things we humans like to do, and in my opinion, that’s what really sets Gremlins apart from similar films like Critters and Ghoulies. Those movies are fun too, but this one is on another level.

Not only do those human-like behaviors give the film a unique charm you won’t find anywhere else, but they also make this story much more meaningful than your typical creature feature. At its core, Gremlins is essentially a metaphor for the various ways we often overindulge and let our greed and selfishness get the best of us around Christmas time, and it’s spot-on. It’s a damning indictment of everything wrong with our celebration of this sacred holiday, and for that alone, it deserves a spot on this list.

The Last Exorcism

A girl kneeling on the ground

The Last Exorcism isn’t the best exorcism movie ever made (that honor still belongs to The Exorcist), but this PG-13 horror flick is quite possibly the most unique. It’s about a Christian pastor who finally comes clean and confesses that his life’s work has been nothing short of a big scam. He’s making a documentary detailing all the ways he’s swindled his congregation and inculcated them with false faith. In particular, he wants to let people know that exorcism is nothing but smoke and mirrors (sometimes literally), but when he performs the ritual one last time for the camera, he gets a bit more than he bargained for.

As a Christian myself, I find that premise utterly fascinating. While I do believe in possession and exorcism, I also readily acknowledge that there are more than a few wolves in sheep’s clothing out there. Plenty of people use the Christian faith as a front to exploit the gullible and the desperate, and I love that The Last Exorcism sheds light on this pernicious problem. That being said, the film doesn’t discount the supernatural entirely. It takes a surprisingly balanced approach to this contentious issue, making for a captivating and unique story that will keep your eyes glued to the screen from beginning to end.

The Visit

A woman making a creepy pose

In 2015, M. Night Shyamalan was the laughingstock of the movie world. After tasting success early in his career, films like The Last Airbender, Lady in the Water, and The Happening caused his credibility to plummet. His name became synonymous with cinematic rubbish, so fans didn’t have high hopes for The Visit. But we were oh so wrong.

This PG-13 horror film was a return to form for the filmmaker, and many fans, including me, were pleasantly shocked. It’s about a brother and sister pair who visit their long-estranged grandparents for the first time, and soon after they arrive, the elderly couple begins exhibiting some strange behavior. At first, it all seems relatively innocuous, but after a while, the kids discover that these people aren’t as harmless as they initially thought.

There’s a lot to like about The Visit, but for my money, the movie’s biggest strength is what a friend of mine calls “the unpredictability of human nature.” As the children’s grandparents begin doing creepy things, there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to any of it. It appears completely random. And you never know what these people are going to do next. That uncertainty is utterly harrowing, creating a pervasive air of tension and suspense that more than makes up for the film’s lack of blood and gore.

Lights Out

Mannequins in a warehouse

If you want a PG-13 horror movie that doesn’t skimp on its scares, look no further than Lights Out. This film is a feature-length adaptation of director David F. Sandberg’s fantastic short of the same name, and it’s about a family that’s terrorized by a ghost with a peculiar M.O. This spirit can only appear in the dark, so it goes away if you turn the lights on. But once you turn them off again…well, I’m sure you have a good idea what happens next.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I can imagine a better premise for a horror movie. The dark is arguably our species’ deepest fear, so the idea of a ghost that inhabits the shadows is genius. It’s enough to get under your skin before you even watch the film, and when you finally work up the courage to check it out, Lights Out does not disappoint. This movie is loaded with genuinely creepy moments that will stick with you long after the credits begin to roll—proving, without a doubt, that PG-13 horror deserves way more respect than it usually gets.


M3GAN speaking

Last but not least, we have M3GAN, the killer doll flick that took the horror world by storm earlier this year. If you haven’t seen this film, you might be skeptical about a slasher that doesn’t sport an R rating. Other horror subgenres might be acceptable at PG-13, but not this one. Slashers are all about the gory kills, so they need to feature a boatload of blood and violence…right?


Most slasher movies are little more than a glorified collection of kill scenes, but they’re not all like that. Some go against the grain and buck the “mindless slice and dice” stereotype, and M3GAN is one of them. This movie is, first and foremost, a poignant story about a little girl who unexpectedly loses both of her parents in a tragic car accident, and it’ll move you in ways you never thought a slasher could.

That being said, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. While M3GAN is more concerned with telling an emotional story than showing a ton of blood and guts, that doesn’t mean it’s entirely without scares. In fact, despite its lack of violence, the horror elements are one of the best things about this film. It focuses more on tension and creepiness than typical slasher gore, and it’s way more fun than you’d probably expect a PG-13 slasher to be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

Lynne looks in horror as one of the mutants touches her face

Slasher Saturdays: The Hills Have Eyes (1977) Vs. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

A person with a monstrous appendage sticking out of them

Creepy Crawly Is One of the Year’s Funnest Creature Features