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6. Kids see the ghosts first.

Used in: Poltergeist (1982), Beetlejuice (1988), Thirteen Ghosts (2001), The Others (2001), The Haunted Mansion (2003), Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (2011)

In the laziest of horror movies, kids see the darndest things—more specifically, ghosts that their parents don’t catch glimpses of until the shit hits the fan in the final act. Traditionally, youngsters are the easiest to scare, whether it’s through imaginary creatures in closets or the evil Dinner Broccoli Monster, so there’s an inherent believability and a relatable tension attached to the sight of a movie family’s littlest member scoping out a house’s macabre presences before anyone else.

That being said, the fact that munchkins are the most foolproof people to frighten means that it takes little effort for a horror screenwriter to center a haunted house flick around a pre-teen who’s shook, burdened with seeing ghosts that no one else sees, or even buys. As evidenced in last month’s disappointing Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, anchoring a spook house flick on a young lead (the vast majority of whom are dreadfully inadequate actors) can give a film an overwhelming air of kiddie frights, leaving the final product feeling like an expanded Nickelodeon special airing in late October.

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