Is the new Harry Potter movie too scary for your kids?

Is the new Harry Potter movie too scary for your kids? Jaap Buitendjik / Warner Bros.

Is the new Harry Potter movie too scary for your kids? Jaap Buitendjik / Warner Bros.

I have told my poor hospitalized brother that unless he really needs me today, I am skipping out on rubbing his feet and feeding him to go and see the new Harry Potter movie: “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

I was planning to see it alone, but after watching the trailer (below), I’m thinking I need a friend to go with me. I think I may be too scared!

We know that the book series got darker, more intense and more violent as the saga continued so one would expect the movies to do the same. Although “Half-blood Prince” is only a PG where “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” was  PG-13.

I found a bunch of headlines last night warning parents to beware before taking their kids. Here are a few of them:

New Harry Potter movie could scare younger fans

Parents cautioned about new Harry Potter movie

Missed one or all the movies: Here is a quick summary of all the Harry Potter movies to date.

Here’s the Common Sense media guide to the movie. It’s pretty detailed. They rated it for 12 and up

Also here’s an AJC story from a reporter who went last night to the show. She’s got photos from the night.

If you saw the movie last night or maybe even this morning, please give us a full report (try not to ruin it though!) about which sections are scary and how scary. Also tell us if it’s too intense or would be upsetting to children. Also tell us the youngest age you would let see it.

I am counting on my friend RTD to report in today. She saw it last night at midnight. She is a mom so I’m hoping she can give us some good perspective.

42 comments Add your comment


July 15th, 2009
7:26 am

We have seen all of the Harry Potter movies and my son is an avid reader of the books. The movie may be too scary for the younger set if they haven’t already been exposed to the books. My son’s love of the books actually sparked my daughter’s interest in the books. Even though she is only 8, she has read some of the books. She just saw the Order of the Phoenix this year. She saw all of the movies after they were out of the theaters and even then she was scared. While my son and I will take it in today, my daughter will definitely not see it today.


July 15th, 2009
7:59 am

Not personally into Harry Potter but my son also LOVED the books. He read one of the books, the day it came out, it ONE day…must have been 10 or 11. I thought his eyes would fall out…..LOL. My daughter does want to go to the movie with her friends but she is 17. We will see what she says.

new mom

July 15th, 2009
8:26 am

I’m not into Harry Potter either, but I just wanted to say–Theresa, it’s great that you are going to take a break and do something for yourself. Caring for a loved one, whether it’s an elderly family member, a sick brother, or an active child can be physically and emotionally draining. You will be refreshed and feel like a new person!


July 15th, 2009
8:30 am

We own the current DVDs as my oldest, age 10, is a huge HP fan. I do not think she has seen any of them in the theater though. From the reviews already posted online, this is not a movie for young children; below ages 10 or 12. My oldest and I have both read the entire series so we are aware of the dark theme. There is no way the youngest child, age 7, will see the movie. Thankfully she has already stated she has no interest in it!


July 15th, 2009
8:34 am


I will be taking my children 7 & 9 to see the movie this weekend. I felt they were too young for the midnight show or we would have been there last night…My work schedule will keep us from seeing it before Saturday.

The kids and I have already discussed the darkness of the films. Who might be a good guy or a bad guy. That there were at least 3 deaths in Goblet of Fire, Sirius died in Phoenix and so there may be more deaths in the next 3 films (of course I have read the books so I KNOW).

The children were the deciding factor. We have all of the movies on DVD and watched them for years. They are familar with the series…They have a good grounding in what is real vs what is pretend.

It will be interesting as it is the first of the fanchise they will see on the big screen.


July 15th, 2009
8:47 am

I still haven’t made it through ANY of the movies (even at home) without falling asleep, so I have never seen any of the movies! It really sucks being old.

My kids and spouse are much like MJGoose’s son – they all tried to outdo one another in seeing who could read each book first – even though when the last book came out the oldest was in college! And, no, I have not read any of the books either.


July 15th, 2009
8:49 am

Not a HP fan..Haven’t read any of the books and have only seen the first movie..I have a great niece that has read all of the books, so if she wants to go to movie, I will take her..

As new mom said, I’m glad that you are taking a little time out for you..The small period of rest will be good for you..


July 15th, 2009
8:49 am

I will be taking my 8 year old when she gets back from camp. We have seen all the movies in the theater, most of them on opening day. She understands that this IS NOT REAL!!! It is kind of like riding a roller coaster. It is thrilling while you are on it, but the entire time you know you really are safe.

However, I think it very much depends on the child and his or her level of maturity and understanding of the subject matter.


July 15th, 2009
8:56 am

I’ve read the books so I know the story before I see the movie. My 5 year old is only allowed to watch the first two movies. After that they start getting really dark. People being killed or attacked by scary creatures is not what I want my young son to see. Absolutely this movie, without ruining the story for those who don’t know, is not appropriate for young children. This one in particular, like the last one, is very dark, and grim in nature. I probably wouldn’t take anyone under about 10 to see any of the Harry Potter movies past the third one. Some kids could be mature enough at a slightly younger age, but definitely not preschoolers or kids my sons age. I don’t think they even have the mental capacity at that age to grasp the content.


July 15th, 2009
9:07 am

My wife loves HP, me I’m meh to them. She’s read the books and likes to see the movies asap. I’ve seen most of the movies but they barely hold my interest.

Jesse's Girl

July 15th, 2009
9:12 am

Cannot wait to see it!!! I second FCM’s sentiment….please do not spoil it for me!!!!! But Theresa….I too am so incredibly glad that Emmet is improving!! And kudos to you for taking some “YOU” time!!


July 15th, 2009
9:53 am

I saw it at midnight – so glad I did! But I agree with LT – it’s not for small children. I probably wouldn’t take a child younger than 10 or 11 to see it. I know every child is different and you know your child best. However, parts of this film are DARK, several characters are very creepy, and even I was scared in a couple of parts (and I’m 32 years old, have read the books, and knew that the scary parts were coming.)


July 15th, 2009
10:16 am

RTD here: We discussed this question on the way home from the theater last night. Using my 8-year-old daughter as an example, I would not take her until she is 11 or 12. This is the darkest installment yet. Right now we are reading “Order of the Phoenix” and it is taking some thought to put things into proper context for her. I skimmed over “Half Blood Prince” the past couple of days to be ready for the movie, and there is no way we are starting that book for a couple of years! Come to think of it, that is a good guideline — would you let your child read the book? As for my daughter, I think the movie would be just too much for her: raging hormones, scary curses against students, betrayal, destruction, the darkest magic yet. (The line between the “real” and “magic” worlds in the movie is sometimes blurred — I couldn’t help but think I’d get a lot of “is that real/could that happen” questioning. And a lot of middle-of-the-night-bad-dream visits to my bed!) There is a terrible dilemma for one character, an unbearably heavy burden for another, and one devastating loss. Imagining this as you read is one thing, but seeing a realistic depiction on screen … As adults we can process this, but to a kid — I don’t know. If you can’t really understand something, doesn’t that just make it scarier? I do look forward to the day when we can enjoy it together. It just won’t be for a while.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 15th, 2009
10:53 am

Thanks to everyone for commenting!! RTD I appreciate you coming back with details on why it might be too much (without giving anything away!) RTD worked at the college paper with me and Michael! We appreciate her insight and know she’s a great mom!

I am feeling very guilty not seeing Emmet today. I am waiting to talk to my SIL to see how he did last night. I may change my mind if he had a bad night. I know if I don’t see the movie now, it will probably be a month before I can.


July 15th, 2009
11:02 am

Another midnight showing here! It was great, but no, not for the younger set, I’m afraid. It diverges from the book a great deal, but still maintains the thread of the story (if that makes any sense). But I did note that this movie was much funnier than the last two — not sure if it’s because the Hogwart students are getting older and closer to adult feelings and situations and are thus easier to identify with, or whether the director was a touch more lighthearted. If you’ve read the book, you pretty much know the darker details that don’t need to be delineated here.

Theresa, take that guilt and shove it in a closet. He has a wife, too, and you have definitely been putting in your share of the work! GO TO THE MOVIE, enjoy, relax, escape, slurp up popcorn and a soda — and you’ll have something fun to share with your brother when you see him.


July 15th, 2009
11:30 am

I agree with DB! Don’t guilt yourself out of going to the movie if you really want to. There are other family members, and besides, it’ll give you something new to talk about with him tomorrow!


July 15th, 2009
11:34 am

As far as taking my son to see the movie, he’s 7 and really pretty sensitive. He got nervous during the rainstorm the other night. I think for him, seeing the effects and images in all their glory on a big screen would be too much for him right now. I think that the size of the screen may also play a role. He’s seen parts of the first 2 on tv and was ok with the themes.

Jesse's Girl

July 15th, 2009
11:39 am

Guilt is a nasty little thing….kick it aside. Today is your day to decompress…..give your SIL the opportunity another day. You BOTH need to breathe some fresh air and enjoy some down time. I have been in your shoes and did not give myself permission to do that and I damn near suffered a mental breakdown! You are no good to anyone if you use yourself up…..remember your 4 at home need you to be there for them as well!:) Can’t do that if you give your all to your brother….however deserving and awesome he may be!


July 15th, 2009
11:39 am

Not interested in the movie or books. Never did get into the Lord of the Rings books or movie either. Glad to hear people are being cautious about what they expose (overwhelm) their kids with. Wish others were like those here.


July 15th, 2009
11:44 am

Theresa, go to the movie. Your brother is in good hands. He has other family members and friends who will be there for him as well! I think he would feel guilts if he felt you were denying yourself something just to be with him!

I haven’t seen the last movie, or read the book, so no comment. I agree with some of the other posts though about maturity and processing real vs. unreal. There is an age in which make believe (especially on a movie screen) is WAY to real!

Jesse's Girl

July 15th, 2009
11:49 am

I am only taking my oldest…nearly 13 to see the movie. I think The Boy would have night terrors…never know what will trigger them. The middle daughter still has an overwhelming fear of ET. So yeah…I think Harry and Voldemort(sp) are out for her. Heck, it may scare me:)


July 15th, 2009
12:23 pm

I had this conversation with a friend the other day. If the child was disturbed by anything in the first 5 movies, this is a definite no for now. Her daughter was scared by the merpeople in Goblet of Fire.

I also agree with everyone else here, Teresa, take you time. Your brother will be happier that you enjoyed yourself.


July 15th, 2009
1:05 pm

Saw the movie at midnight last night/this morning. I am so tired. I am getting way too old to be at the midnight movie and go to work the next morning.

This is the most light (subject wise) movie since Chamber of Secrets but still to scary for children under the age of eight. I have to say it was also the funniest of the Potter movies. Some parts I was laughing so hard that I had tears coming into my eyes.

Theresa, please do take some time for yourself. You have a very full plate right now. Everyone deserves a small break. Think about it, back to school madness is right around the corner.


July 15th, 2009
1:13 pm

Theresa – Good for you for taking some time to relax! It’s so much easier to be there for someone else when you yourself are rested and refreshed.

I’m not a HP fan, but I’m SUPER careful about what I watch and will be with future children. We went to see the Transformers movie recently (not so good, by the way) and there were so many little kids there. I’m talking the 5 and under set. Maybe I’m just a stick-in-the-mud, but I thought that movie seemed way inappropriate for preschoolers!!

I say, if in doubt, see it first without the kids. It won’t hurt them to wait a few weeks. And with any movie I think a good rule of thumb is if you’re not sure, skip it. They can always see it when they’re older.


July 15th, 2009
1:15 pm

@ jct -

Any movie I see at that hour is funny to me!! LOL I’m in my 20’s still and am already too old for midnight showings!


July 15th, 2009
1:44 pm

I must be tired because I failed to answer all the questions. As a whole, I thought movie Goblet of Fire was much darker than HBP. There was one place in this movie, even though I knew it was coming where I jumped (yes at 39 I jumped).

I thought the trailers were much more dark than the movie overall. The movie is 2 hours and 33 minutes. It moved so quickly that it seemed like 90 minutess.

There was quite a few younger than 10 set at the Hollywood 24 in Chamblee last night. I was surprised by the number of younger children at the midnight movie. Best costumes were a Loucis (my adled brain can’t remember the spelling) Malfoy, a Mad Eye Moody and a Professor Sprout. These were all adults in costume.

[...] AJC’s Momania blog wonders if the new Harry Potter movie is too scary for kids? [...]


July 15th, 2009
2:03 pm

If your kids can handle the news headlines everyday, I think they can handle this film.


July 15th, 2009
3:56 pm

Harry Potter is scary? News to me. My daughter has seen and owns them all. She is 11 now and we will definitely be seeing the new one this weekend.

Admittedly, the movies that scared me as a child still scare me as an adult…The Omen and The Shining. Those were scary movies!

Jesse's Girl

July 15th, 2009
4:49 pm

The Changeling with George C. Scott scared me to freakin death!!!!!


July 15th, 2009
5:00 pm

Movies like this are only scary to the kids of parents that shelter them from everything!! I took my 5 year old to see Transformers Revenge of the Fallen and he will see Harry Potter as well.


July 15th, 2009
5:21 pm

My parents took me to see Aliens when I was 6 years old. Scared the everlovin’ bejesus out of me. I couldn’t sleep for 3 weeks and refused to go down to our basement play area alone. I turned out fine though. The darkness doesn’t come as often as it did 5 or 10 years ago and the voices in my head aren’t screaming quite as loud. Things are going well.

HP Fan

July 15th, 2009
5:33 pm

Came up to N.C. to visit 25 year old daughter and go see “Half Blood Prince.” It’s a tradition for us to go see the HP movies on opening day, so we have tickets for tonight at 7:00. My favorite was two summers ago when she was living in Paris. We were visiting her and saw the opening of “Order of the Phoenix” at a theater on Champs-Elysees. The movie was in English with French subtitles…awesome memory from our trip!


July 15th, 2009
7:09 pm

Dose movies come strait from the ‘debbil, I tells

Sorry, I just wanted to write a screaming rant
on one of these boards.

Jesse's Girl

July 15th, 2009
9:22 pm

If you want to scream Jay…do it properly….LIKE THIS!!!!!!!


July 16th, 2009
1:04 am

theresa it is a fact that caregivers of ill people lots of times within 6 months will suffer some illness themselves..please please take time for you!! and all your other family members need to do the same. i have been thru a lot of what you are going thru and i know how guilty you can feel for not being there…but you are there..and if you dont take care of you-then you wont be there for will be sick or stressed out or whatever…there seems to be enough people in your wonderful family to take turns…none of you should feel like you have to always be there…when your brother gets home there will still be things his family needs…so take care of you so you can be there then..and so your own family doesnt suffer needlessly…you seem to be a wonderful sister!!! and a wonderful mom too…just dont forget about YOU!!!! God bless you and your prayers are with you all..


July 18th, 2009
3:13 pm

We saw the movie (my fav since Azkaban). I don’t get why they are panning the ‘kids’ acting…they did a wonderful job, and not being kids.

As for my kids they did a great job in the theater. They had no issues with anything they saw. I did have the younger one turn away during 2 scenes (their request was that if I thought something was coming that might leave an image in their head). There were other children in the theater as well (under 10) and they handled the movie well too.

Most of the ‘dark’/emo stuff that was touted in the reviews went right over the youngest’s head. The snogging/hormonal stuff (also listed in the reviews) was not as overpowering as I feared it would be. All in all both were handled with taste and grace.

It was fab! My younger one wants to read book 7 now!

All that said, you are the parent, make whatever decision you think best for your child.


July 20th, 2009
7:56 am

There were a few scary parts of the movie, especially when Dumbledore and Harry are attacked by the Inferi. The other factor of the movie that makes it unsuitable for preteens is that it deals so much with the surge of teenage hormones. While no R-rated activity occurs, there is still quite a bit of suggestive dialogue throughout the movie. I’d highly suggest parents viewing it themselves or researching more information before taking their kids to see it. Be prepared.


July 21st, 2009
11:48 am

Patrick—you gave away a plot point!

Next, the hormonal stuff went right over the 7yo head. Kids do not pick up on all the ’suggestive’ stuff unless you make a deal of it….I found no more ‘hormonal suggestion’ in this movie than I did in High School Musical 3-in fact HSM 3 had MORE!!! -where Zac Efron climbs in a bedroom window to have a picnic with his g/f .


August 10th, 2009
1:15 am

I saw this film and had to leave before the end. This stuff is from the dark side, my friends.

watch harry potter online

August 24th, 2009
2:40 pm

thanks for sharing these ideas


December 7th, 2009
3:12 pm

I for one am sick to death of these Harry Potter Movies not even being close to the novel. Why bother making the Movie!??! How hard is it to follow the books, really? I can not wait til someone decides to actually remake these movies year by year making the actor the proper age like the fist two harry potters and follow the book like only the first Harry Potter. So much was intentionally changed in the last four movies that now the last two coming up qwill have to be such mutated versions of the true story that it is hardly worth going to see it.