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Parents' Guide to

The Watcher in the Woods

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Dated Disney horror tale has occult themes, mild scares.

Movie PG 1980 84 minutes
The Watcher in the Woods Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 16+

Avoid this dark, disturbing, sickeningly scary film

Watcher in the Woods freaked me out terribly when I was saw it at a slumber party at 13 years old. It was so frightening and disturbing that I couldn’t sleep for weeks afterward—Or even think about it without shaking and crying. Just the thought of it still makes me cringe even now, 30 years later. And though I’ve never really preferred scary movies, I’ve seen plenty of them before and after, and none have upset me like this one did. I know other people who had similar responses to it. I’m sure some kids love it, but others definitely might not.

This title has:

Too much violence
age 13+

Great movie - but still scares me today as an adult!

I remember begging to be allowed to watch this movie when I was about 10-11yrs old. Watched it with a girlfriend and it scares the both of us out of our minds! No horror, but very spooky!!! Still gives me the goosebumps thinking about it as a 44yr old mother! Won’t be letting my young one watch it for a while yet. But great movie if you want a truly chilling thriller and suspense movie!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (7 ):

The scares in THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS make this a rather jarring departure from the typical live-action Disney films of the 1970s and '80s. But the movie is still as dated as the lead teen character's feathered hair and designer jeans. Many of the actual attempts to scare the audience feel gratuitous and forced, having very little to do with the actual story.

Aside from the occult themes, the movie doesn't veer too far from the typical "new family in a house that appears to be haunted" tropes that so often characterize these types of movies; glasses and mirrors break for no reason, the owner of the house is eerie and suspicious, animals lose control of themselves, objects move and explode, and so on. And the special effects, decades after the movie was made, aren't really all that special. It's difficult to imagine modern kids finding this movie anything but corny. The similarities to The Shining (backward writing on mirrors and windows by a seemingly possessed girl, for example) make it uninspiring viewing for grown-up horror fans as well.

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