For most people, the transition between childhood and adulthood is a painful one, marked by periods of stress, confusion, and anxiety. It’s unsurprising then that puberty is such a popular subject in horror movies. While standard coming-of-age dramas (Stand By Me, Lady Bird) romanticize the nicer aspects of growing up, the horror genre is well suited to portraying the uglier aspects, whether through violence, body horror, or metaphors.


Safe to say, viewers looking for comfort won’t find any in these movies. From Carrie (1976) to We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021), here are the coming-of-age horror movies that (will) stand the test of time due to their unflinching take on teenage friendships, sex, periods, and other hormone-related tribulations.

RELATED: 5 Best Coming-Of-Age Movies On Netflix

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, Brian De Palma’s Carrie stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, a not-so-ordinary 16-year-old who is mercilessly bullied by her classmates and abused by her pious mother. Like most teenage girls, Carrie just wants to fit in, but unlike most teenage girls, she has supernatural powers. And when Carrie is taken to prom by the heartthrob Tommy Ross (William Katt), the whole school will see them.

The movie begins with Carrie getting her first period in the school gym showers, marking the beginning of the end (of her social life, at least) for the protagonist. Here, classmates tease Carrie for menstruating in an anxiety-inducing scene that will come back to haunt them once Carrie — after dealing with her overbearing mother, douchey guys, and bitchy popular girls — has reclaimed her body and powers to enact sweet revenge. A perfect ending to a perfect horror movie, viewers won’t want to miss it.

Directed by Joel Schumacher, The Lost Boys is a cult classic 80’s horror about two teenage brothers, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim), who move with their recently divorced mother (Dianne Wiest) to the small town of to Sante Carlo, California, only to discover it’s seething with vampires. While Sam, the youngest, makes friends with a pair of vampire-hunting comic-book nerds (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander), Michael falls for Star (Jami Gertz) and gets involved with a gang of bloodsuckers.

This vampire tale has all the qualities of a good coming-of-age movie and then some: sibling rivalry (“My own brother, a goddamn shit-sucking vampire! You wait ’til mom finds out, buddy!”), physical transformations, sexual awakenings, bad boys, good girls, and a bucketload of teenage angst. It also has a rocking soundtrack (Echo & the Bunnymen, INXS), which is essential to any teen movie.

Ginger Snaps is an underrated Canadian horror movie directed by John Fawcett and starring Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle as two sisters, Brigitte and Ginger, who are joint at the hip and share an obsession with death. The sisters also share a pretty huge secret: the oldest, Ginger, is a werewolf. On the night of her first period, Ginger was viciously attacked by a lycanthrope and she hasn’t been the same since. Racking up a body count in their small suburban town of Bailey Downs, Brigitte must put an end to her sister’s reign of terror and save them both.

Following in Carrie‘s footsteps, Ginger Snaps portrays menstruation as a traumatic and transformative event with disastrous consequences. For Ginger, getting her period was just as bad as getting turned into a werewolf, and of course, the two are inextricably linked. Ginger’s insatiable hunger for sex and violence is a result of both events, as is her confusion and fear of herself. For this teenager, the only way out is through… an injection of monkshood.

David Robert Mitchell’s indie horror hit It Follows stars Maika Monroe as a college student named Jay who, after sleeping with her new boyfriend (Jake Weary), becomes the latest recipient of a fatal curse passed from person to person via sexual intercourse. In the Detroit suburbs where she lives, Jay is stalked by death who presents itself in the form of strangers and friends. In a desperate bid to stay alive, she and her best friends band together to outsmart the supernatural entity and kill it once and for all.

Many believe It Follows is an allegory for HIV/AIDS, and that would make sense, given that the curse is sexually-transmitted; however, the movie could also be read as one giant metaphor for coming of age and the horror that entails. As people grow up they make bad decisions and become more conscious of their mortality. Jay’s “bad decision” was choosing the wrong man to have sex with and she literally comes face to face with death. It’s also symbolic that many of her friends use vintage technology throughout the movie: growing up sucks and the desire to live in the past is strong.

Another low-budget hit, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is Jane Schoenbrun’s directorial debut about a chronically-online teenager named Casey (Anna Cobb) who, coming from a dead-end town and with no friends, decides to spice up her life by joining an online role-playing horror game named the World’s Fair. Soon after, she begins documenting the changes happening to her, and, in the process, worries fellow player JLB (Michael Rogers).

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is a unique coming-of-age horror because of its emphasis on the internet. The internet is central to most adolescents’ lives, and yet it usually only appears as a background character in movies about teenagers. Here, it is the main character, and Schoenbrun’s internet is a place of both opportunity and danger; beauty and darkness. It provides Casey an escape from her corporeal existence, but it also opens her up to potential harassment from older males (such as JLB). Schoenbrun hits the nail on the head with this depiction, forcing younger audiences to consider just how much the internet shaped their own coming of age.

MORE: This Underrated Gem Is A Cross Between Coming-Of-Age Movie And Action Thriller



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