Why We Need Scary Children's Movies
Start writing a post

Why We Need Scary Children's Movies

Fear and Triumph Belong in Children's stories

Why We Need Scary Children's Movies

If you have not seen "Kubo and the Two Strings" STOP. Go see it. Come back and read this article when you are done. "Kubo and the Two Strings" is a delightfully detailed and thoughtfully told story about a one-eyed boy named Kubo who goes on a classic, but nuanced 'heroe's journey' to protect himself from his maternal grandfather. I am an avid reader of movie reviews, often before I see the movie. I held off on reading reviews for "Kubo" because I was so excited. When I went back to read the reviews the most consistent comment was that the film was quite dark and sinister for a 'children's movie.' The concern is warranted when you consider that Kubo's maternal grandfather ripped out one of Kubo's eyes as a child and his two wraith like aunts pursue him relentlessly for the other eye. Family out to kill you? Yeah, it's pretty dark.

But, consider the role of fantasy for a minute. Fantasy is an augment of reality and you have only to crack open one or two fairy tales to realize that everyone has a scary stepmother, everyone faces ogres in their lives and victory goes to the heroes and heroines who are loyal, loving, courageous and clever. We need scary children's movies because those movies, those stories, put the scary stuff, the dark stuff, in its place: showing children where dark stuff comes from and how good and light can eventually triumph.

When Kubo is first told that he must avoid the night because with it comes his grandfather's wrath and his aunt's violence he responds: 'But, Mom, they're family!" To which she replies, "No, Kubo. They are monsters! They killed your father and took your eye and they want the other one as well. I cannot let that happen." Even as a young child, Kubo has an inherent sense that seeing 'family' as the enemy is wrong. This inherent sense holds true throughout the film as Kubo is never in direct combat with either his Aunts or his Grandfather until the very end, and even when that showdown happens, he chooses mercy and love over vengeance. Showing how to solve family problems in a kids movie? Not bad.

Laika, the production studio, drew heavily upon Japanese mythology and eastern spirituality to depict a thin place where the spiritual and earthly realms mix and meld. There is great respect paid to memory as a powerful force which keeps people and things alive beyond death. There is a wonderful ritual of paper lanterns which symbolize departed one's spirits moving on into the next world. Even birds are carriers of memory into the next world. These ideas lend a kind of ritual and remembrance to a western view used to honoring the individual memorializing only those of great accomplishment or triumph. Children have questions about death, loss and family members and exposing them to different viewpoints of these crucial topics can help them reflect more on topics which may have scared or worried them in the past. Helping kids process deep topics? Not bad.

There is great triumph in Kubo that some critics have observed as inconclusive. However, I think the uncertainty of the film's end allows children and adults to continue a conversation about loss and family and remembering and being brave. The juxtaposition of the light vs. dark is abundantly clear in the film showing children that it takes friends, light, courage and love to ultimately win over hate. The answers may not be definite, but the conversation can continue, darkness can be fought and it doesn't have to be done alone.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments