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Top 10 Coming of Age Horror Movies

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
These are the best coming of age horror films! For this list, we'll be ranking the best horror films which feature plots focusing on the coming of age story of a young protagonist or group of children. This doesn't necessarily need to be the only theme on display to merit inclusion, but each horror film should primarily feature this idea within their narrative. We’ve included films like "In the Company of Wolves”, "The Craft”, "Picnic at Hanging Rock”, and more!

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Top 10 Coming of Age Horror Movies

Growing up sure can be scary! Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Coming of Age Horror Movies.

For this list, we'll be looking at horror films that feature plots focusing on the coming of age story of a young protagonist or group of children (or teens).

#10: "The Company of Wolves" (1984)

The male-dominated werewolf movie genre may not be the most obvious place to find a strong female character, but there’s a strong narrative of empowerment beneath the surface of this mid- '80s horror flick. Directed by Neil Jordan, and based upon a short story by screenwriter Angela Carter, "The Company of Wolves" feels like a loose reinterpretation of the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Our heroine, Rosaleen, may find herself staring down the snout of a wolfman in the film, but she never succumbs to the stereotypical "damsel in distress" tropes, instead showcasingher independence as a fully fleshed out character and a woman of agency.

#9: "Jennifer's Body" (2009)

Friendship is an important part of the high school experience. During these years, one hopefully forges bonds that will last for years to come. But what happens when friendships becomes lopsided? "Jennifer's Body" explores this question by examining the relationship of Megan Fox's "Jennifer" and Amanda Seyfried's "Anita." It's no accident that Anita's nickname is "Needy", she’s a clingy friend who struggles to maintain an identity separate from that of her popular friend. But the Alpha and Beta female friendship dynamic isn’t the only coming of age element to the story; Jennifer’s possession also feels like puberty running rampant. The film feels very high school… and that’s what makes it work.

#8: "The Craft" (1996)

High school can be a real witch. "The Craft" is fondly remembered by kids who first caught this teen horror flick back in the late nineties. The film starred some of the decade's hottest talents, including Neve Campbell, Fairuza Balk and Robin Tunney, and sought to capitalize on the growing popularity of Wicca and witchcraft in the mainstream. While the authenticity of the film’s magic is certainly debatable, "The Craft" also delves into other subject matter, such as the pressures of fitting in during those all important high school years. There's a certain camp appeal to the whole thing, but "The Craft" nevertheless remains a memorable example of '90s teen horror with charm to spare.

#7: "Picnic at Hanging Rock" (1975)

There's nothing camp about our next pick, the beautiful, haunting and dreamlike Australian film, "Picnic at Hanging Rock." The story follows a group of girls and their teacher, who go missing while exploring a rocky area for an afternoon picnic. "Picnic at Hanging Rock" combines ethereal atmosphere and evocative music to memorable effect as the mystery unfolds , but it's the film's themes of sisterhood and sexuality that make it one of the most unique examples of the coming-of-age trope within the horror genre. Don't look for easy answers or neatly tied up plot threads here, but instead dive in headfirst, and let "Picnic at Hanging Rock" wash over you like the tide.

#6: "The Lost Boys" (1987)

What better way to bond with your friends than by hunting down a group of teenage bloodsuckers? "The Lost Boys" was by far one of the coolest horror comedy films of the eighties, an effort drenched in the sort of hyper-stylized, music video aesthetic beloved by the MTV generation. Director Joel Schumacher delivered his defining cinematic statement here, as the film not only delivers the fun and scares, but also provides genuinely likeable young characters. The film explores childhood friendship, alienation and youthful rebellion, without ever becoming too heavy handed, making the final product something that is fun, but more than just popcorn fare.

#5: "It Follows" (2015)

Love and sex can be confusing for even the most well-rounded teenager to figure out, but what happens when you throw a murderous, supernatural entity into the mix? "It Follows" was a runaway horror hit for writer/director David Robert Mitchell, a film that was simultaneously throwback nostalgia and forward thinking, cutting edge chic. The film utilizes themes of sexually transmitted diseases, shame and stigma to tell its story of a shape that attaches itself to one person after a sexual encounter. The entity moves murderously on down the line, unless that person puts distance between themselves and the shape by having sex and passing that sexual curse along to someone else.

#4: "Ginger Snaps" (2000)

It's not entirely uncommon for some teenagers to obsess over, or become preoccupied with death. "Ginger Snaps" faced this fear of mortality head on, and in doing so, became something of a cult hit. The film focuses heavily on themes of menstruation and puberty to tell its story of two sisters, one of whom ends up becoming a werewolf. The actors have great on-screen chemistry, and John Fawcett's direction made "Ginger Snaps" stand out from the rash of post-"Scream" slasher clones and teen horror embarrassments. Instead, the film spawned a franchise, proving that young adult horror need not be dumbed down to be successful.

#3: "It" (2017)

Sure, it may have been Pennywise the Dancing Clown that first drew people to this 2017 take on the classic Stephen King story, but the true success of "It" lies at the feet of its likeable and talented young cast. The film brought together some of the most charismatic actors of their generation to tell King's story, and it's their relationships with each other that holds "It" together for most of the film. The Losers Club doen't seem to belong anywhere else but with each other, and they probably wouldn't want it any other way;, we certainly don’t!

#2: "Let the Right One In" (2008)

Being bullied is a horrible thing for anyone to go through, but it can be particularly traumatic when it happens at a young age. "Let the Right One In" explores these feelings of inadequacy and awkwardness, while also touching on first love, as well as the dark and horrifying theme of pedophilia. The relationship between Oskar and the vampire Eli is legitimately sweet to watch, even though we know how vicious and brutal she can be, when put to the test. It’s a film of extremes, swinging quickly from quiet moments of intimacy to flashes of horror, but it’s an efective and moving experience, start to finish.

Before we name our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions!

"Alucarda" (1977)

"Teeth" (2007)

"Raw" (2016)

#1: "Carrie" (1976)

"Carrie" is a certified horror classic, a film that explores the darkest sides of abuse, bullying and religious fanaticism. Brian De Palma touched upon many of the tropes we've been mentioning throughout this list back in 1976, drawing parallels between emerging sexuality, menstruation, puberty...and just how scary some of those moments can be. Of course, there's also Carrie White's explosive psychic powers, and the torture she suffers at the hands of her malicious mother. With these many themes masterfully woven together, "Carrie" is the OG and standard bearer of young adult coming of age horror.


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