What’s scary when you’re twelve years old?

 In Books

Thing Two has been nagging me for months now to let him watch a scary film, or read a scary book.

He’s twelve.

I really want to help him out here.

Obviously.

I’m the author of four novels of vampire horror and one collection of short stories. I’m a huge fan of Stephen King and at one time I was an obsessive over James Herbert. By the time I read Fluke, I’d read everything he’d ever written and so I had to wait impatiently for his next book. I don’t know how long it took him to write those books, but it only took me an couple of afternoons to read them and then I was waiting again.

And films? Hell yes. I’ve been traumatised by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Evil Dead, The Beyond and almost countless others, many of which I’ve forgotten about now.

So yes, I do want to help him out and find him something that will scare him silly.

Except, I don’t.

Because I don’t want to traumatise him.

And, I have to admit, I don’t want to wind up in big trouble with Mrs Preston if it all goes horribly wrong (or right, depending on your point of view), and he’s so terrified he has to sleep with the lights on and starts wetting the bed.

You can see that I’m trying to walk a tightrope here.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I let him read my copy of Misery.

He was disappointed.

Let’s clarify that. He loved the book, enjoyed it immensely. But it didn’t scare him. Not one bit.

We watched the film next with Thing One and Mrs Preston.

Thing One and Thing Two enjoyed the film, but I can’t say the same for Mrs Preston as she left halfway through.

It was all getting a little intense for her.

Thing Two said the book was much better.

But neither of them scared him.

I’ve talked to him about Salem’s Lot and The Shining, and how scary they are but I’m not letting him read either of those just yet.

Now here’s the kicker: He said to me,

‘I don’t understand how a book can scare you. A film yes, because it can use jump scares and music. But a book is just words on a page.’

Damn it.

What am I going to do?

I want to see him scared silly reading a truly terrifying book or watching a horror film, but I don’t want to upset him. I can still remember reading The Shining and being terrified of bathroom mirrors for years after.

Perhaps I’m worrying unnecessarily. Kids these days are so much more sophisticated than my generation were. When I think of the bucket loads of blood he has seen shed on TV already, I’m amazed he’s not a cannibal serial killer.

Except, that’s not true, because I know there is no evidence for a causal link between fictional violence and the real thing.

And he knows the difference between screen violence and real violence.

So I’m racking my brains for a scary film to watch with him.

The Evil Dead? Hmm, no, I’m not ready to let him see that, just yet. Besides, he might just wind up laughing at the special effects.

Image result for manhunter 1986

Manhunter? A bit eighties, might fall flat.

Image result for cannibal holocaust

Cannibal Holocaust? Don’t be silly.

What about books?

Image result for the fog james herbert

The Fog? No, no, no, no. Not when I think about that scene in the school gym involving the headmaster, his pupils and a pair of garden shears.

Image result for salem's lot cover

Salem’s Lot? I don’t know. Maybe.

What should I do?

Any suggestions?

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Showing 14 comments
  • Joan MacLeod
    Reply

    I’d say the original Black Christmas as the movie but the language is definitely too harsh for his age. Helter Skelter about the Manson Murders as the book because it’s a true story but again at his age I’m not to sure. Sorry, this doesn’t help much…lol

    • Ken Preston
      Reply

      Thanks Joan. You know, I’m not sure if I have seen Black Christmas. And I wouldn’t worry about the language, he’d heard it all!!

  • Isabella
    Reply

    LMAO! My youngest grandson was 12years old on February, the only thing that scares him is when there’s NO BROADBAND! if for some reason it goes off in his house, he comes round to mine and stays here till it’s fixed, you should write a book about that.

    • Ken Preston
      Reply

      No internet?! That is true terror for all of us, not just your grandson!

  • JackieT
    Reply

    At your son’s age the scary books came with class like your stories. Until Misery I used to read S King. Misery was disgusting. I never write bad reviews. Can check on Goodreads/JackieT

    • Ken Preston
      Reply

      Thank you Jackie! 🙂

  • Kaylor
    Reply

    If I may, I suggest either “The Ring” or “Thir13en Ghosts” movies. Both of those were scary to me as a kid. (I even left the house during the “Thir13en Ghosts” movie and stood out on the back porch in the bright sunlight for a few minutes. But if you haven’t seen either of them, I’d HIGHLY recommend watching them first before letting the kids see them. They aren’t necessarily gory/violent, but especially with Thir13en Ghosts, the characters were the main scare factor. If you don’t believe me, google “Thir13en Ghosts The Jackal” and just look at the images! He’s the only ghost I remember from that movie, but anytime I mention him to someone, I can INSTANTLY picture his face.

  • Kaylor
    Reply

    If I may, I suggest either “The Ring” or “Thir13en Ghosts” movies. Both of those were scary to me as a kid. (I even left the house during the “Thir13en Ghosts” movie and stood out on the back porch in the bright sunlight for a few minutes. But if you haven’t seen either of them, I’d HIGHLY recommend watching them first before letting the kids see them. They aren’t necessarily gory/violent, but especially with Thir13en Ghosts, the characters were the main scare factor. If you don’t believe me, google “Thir13en Ghosts The Jackal” and just look at the images! He’s the only ghost I remember from that movie, but anytime I mention him to someone, I can INSTANTLY picture his face.
    And with The Ring, again it’s more of the characters that are scary.
    Oh and one other recommendation. The Final Destination movies were pretty scary. I watched one with my mom about 5 years ago, and we were both spooked. Especially since the opening scene involved a log truck spilling it’s load and the next day the same thing REALLY happened just up the road from my house!

    • Ken Preston
      Reply

      Great suggestions, thank you. I’ll definitely take a look at those. And scary stuff when life starts imitating films!

  • TOBYANN APARISI
    Reply

    I would say as a twelve year old Silver Bullet (Stephen King) or IT would certainly give him a fright I know they did me. However, when I was also 12 my first truly scary story was the Ghost Story (Peter Straub). I read it first and then went to see the movie with my aunt. Both were very well done and a good scare to boot. I am not sure what a 12 year old would think of Misery other than it would scare them because you are a writer and it could put horrific images into his head of what could happen to you. Otherwise, the book was very well written and very frightening. The movie was also well done even though they omitted some things. FFT

    Till next time

    Tobyann

  • TOBYANN APARISI
    Reply

    When I was twelve years old a book and movie that scared me was Ghost Story (by Peter Straub). There is also Silver Bullet or IT (by Stephen King). Silver Bullet was scary for me because I read it then saw the movie and then one night I was coming home after band practice I had to open our gate and the parent that drove me home wanted to leave me at our gate. We lived out in the middle of no where and it was very dark. Suddenly my imagination took over and the coyotes yipping and yowling got me pretty scared. It was a 1/4 mile to my house no one would hear me if I screamed and I was not a good runner. I quickly closed our gate and walked as quickly as I could to our house. To this day when I see that movie I remember that experience and now I have to laugh. It was pretty scary then though. To me IT might not be appropriate for his age (the book that is). There is some very risque and or sexual situations that occur in the book (the movie leaves out) that in my opinion are not appropriate for that age. The story is pretty scary though so as a parent that one is up to you. Ghost Story has some very scary imagery both in the book and in the movie. Then again have you thought of the Darren Shan books? They are written for young adults and do have some scary imagery as well. Anyways Food for thought.

    TIll next time

    Tobyann

    • Ken Preston
      Reply

      Hi Tobyann.
      Some of his classmates have already read IT. Been a long time since I read it so I would have to revisit the book before I thought about letting my son read it. But he loved Misery.
      That’s a scary memory from your childhood. 🙂

  • Mary Collin
    Reply

    What sticks in my mind from that age is anything related to those old Pan Book of Horror Stories series. I ate them up for breakfast.

    Thought his comments about books not being as scary a films was interesting. My imaginaton is pretty vivid as I discovered when a friend of mine read the same page in a book as I did. Then we stopped and talked about what we’d got from it. I could talk for ages, she just read it. I reckon you’ll know what I mean. More recently I’ve liked the Joseph Delaney and Patrick Rothfuss books but not sure it’s tough enough for him.

    Those Pan books though . . . still in my memory in a good way that just whispers at the corners . . .

    • Ken Preston
      Reply

      I think I can remember those books. Yes, it’s all very subjective, isn’t it? I’m thinking of letting him read either Pet Sematary or Salem’s Lot. I might have to read them myself first though.

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