Despite our best efforts to not scare the crap out of our kids at an early age, our kids have friends. And those friends have older siblings or YouTube and are often all-too-happy to introduce them to the horror villains of our childhood — Freddy Kruger, Pennywise, Michael Meyers, Jason Voorhees. Remember how creepy Gremlins were??
That’s exactly what happened when Reddit user u/atavix sent her eight-year-old daughter to a friend’s house recently for a playdate. Rather than enjoying a couple of hours of old-fashioned fort-building fun, her little girl met Chucky for the first time:
She was extremely clingy, and it was clear something was bothering her. When I asked her in the car, she told me that her friend had shown her videos of Chucky, and she was terrified. It was difficult to know for sure, but my understanding is that it was about 15 minutes of two or three YouTube clips that had Chucky in them.
After several days of living in fear both at home and at school, u/atavix asked for advice and received a suggestion from u/DallySleep that got a solid Reddit community endorsement: Lift the horror-movie veil.
Maybe find some suitable ‘behind the scenes’ videos of Chucky — how they painted him, how they got him to move, interviews with the actors, etc. It might help her to take some of the magic away when seen how it is all put together. The wider shots showing all the cameras and sets, etc., may also help her see how unreal it all is.
It’s hard for little kids to understand how something that looks so real and so scary is just a bunch of people playing pretend. It doesn’t look pretend, it doesn’t sound pretend, and the images are too intense to simply take your word on it. But you can show them how it’s pretend. Here are some other ways to do that:
Find old episodes or clips of Face Off, a competition/elimination series featuring special effects make-up artists. Here’s an example that shows how monsters and ghouls are made from silicone, spray paint and other materials — and you see the artists interacting with the models and taking their comfort into consideration.
Show your kid how stop animation works to demystify animated characters. This behind-the-scenes look at how Kubo and the Two Strings was made is incredible (as a bonus, it shows how much patience and meticulous work goes into creating shows our kids love).
If your kids want to watch something you think they’re probably ready for but might scare them a bit, you could do all of this preemptively. But when you’re caught off-guard by sudden evil-clown-phobia, do damage control by searching for behind-the-scenes shots and interviews with the actors who play the characters that creeped them out.
Fair warning: Many Redditors who commented in favour of showing kids how horror works were scared by it themselves as kids. After a peek behind the scenes, they then fell in love with horror, even attempting to or dreaming of creating their own horror films. But, hey, that’s better than remaining terrified that Chucky is around every corner — as long as they know not to share their newfound love of horror with their other little buddies.