Is The Witches Too Scary for Young Kids?

The Witches - Image from Warner Bros. Pictures

Audiences were first introduced to the scheming and scary world of The Witches in 1983 from acclaimed author Roald Dahl.  Then, in 1990, Angelica Houston starred in the original film adaptation of the popular book, bringing many spooky images to the big screen.  Now, 30 years later, Academy Award winners Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer lead a talented cast in the 2020 film adaptation streaming on HBO Max.  If you're not familiar with the original book or movie, you may find yourself wondering if this is appropriate for young viewers.  Let's take a look at my experience watching it with my 5 and 8 year old.

The Witches: Is it too scary for young kids?


The Witches - Image from Warner Bros. Pictures


We settled in for a family movie night where we were excited to watch The Witches on HBO Max.  Before I should start, I have to confess that I don't think I've ever seen the original film - at least I don't remember it, and it seems like something pretty memorable.  I did grow up loving Roald Dahl's books though and was excited to see what was in store.  My boys had watched the trailer and also thought it looked a little spooky, but a lot of fun - perfect for a 5 and 8 year old getting ready for Halloween, right???

Well, quickly the movie night became a bust.  The beginning of the movie opens with Charlie's parents being killed in a car crash - sparking questions for my youngest.  Even though there is nothing graphic in the images, the idea of having mom and dad die suddenly while driving the car was enough to spark some concern in his little eyes.  As the movie progresses, Charlie moves in with his grandmother who does her best to cheer him up.  But when Charlie sees something strange in the grocery store, his grandmother realizes she needs to do much more than just make him feel safe and comfortable, she has to protect him from evil witches.  We only made it to the first introduction of a witch.  When Charlie encounters the witch in the grocery store who has snakes coming out of her arms - both of my boys were out.  They were begging for lights on and the movie to be over.  So we stopped and I figured I'd finish watching another day by myself.

The Witches - Image from Warner Bros. Pictures



Fast forward to the next day and I head to my room to finish the movie, when who follows me - both of my boys.  When I told them what I was going to watch, they both agreed they wanted to try it again. . .this time in the daylight.  I'm happy to report that they both successfully made it through the remainder of the movie - and actually really enjoyed it!  The idea of an evil group of witches having a plot to turn all children into mice is a good blend of silly and scary.  Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch is, well, interesting.  The CGI does a nice job of making her "witch" appearance feel believable, but her accent leaves a lot to be desired.  

The Witches: Final Thoughts


The Witches - Image from Warner Bros. Pictures


Overall, I think the movie was a pretty good option for a family movie this Halloween season.  Most importantly, my boys ended up enjoying it which is what I care about the most when it comes to family movie night.  There were some "cover your eye" moments - like when Anne Hathaway reveals her true witch features - but I think you can help coach young kids through it.  And, if you have really young viewers like me, the option to watch during the daytime may turn out being a better choice.

Want to check out the trailer and my preview before making your decision?  Find it here!