How Scary is Too Scary for Kids?
Rico Rodriguez (Modern Family) stars in “The Weeping Woman,” the latest episode of R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour on the Hub network. The episode was written by Harold Hayes Jr. and Craig S. Phillips, creators of Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found, a children’s series on the Amazon Studios Development Slate.
We asked them about how to calibrate the chills when children are watching.
Writing for Haunting Hour we definitely learned a lot about pacing and tone in our scripts. The basic formula that we live by is to take the scares right up to the point where kids would be covering their eyes and then hit them with a good, unexpected laugh. We feel this works great for kids because it’s more about suspense than horror and it makes for a wild ride when the viewer is breathless and laughing in the same beat.
We learned a lot from the very talented showrunners Billy Brown and Dan Angel (who were also the main creative force behind Goosebumps) on how to convey this on the page. They were always pushing us to keep the monsters in the shadows, that the anticipation of the scare is often much more effective than actually seeing the monster or the ghost.