Yes in the early 80s, Disney, a corporation built around child friendly and wholesome entertainment (for the most part) made a legitamate scary movie. Not a scary scene that might freak your kids out, an entire film designed to scare them. Intrigued? Good.
The Watcher In The Woods is a decent scary movie. Since it's Disney the horror comes from pure atmosphere and chills rather than gore or anything like that, and it works incredibly well. A new family has recently moved to a house for a brief time and already their two young daughters sense something is out there in the woods, leading to the discovery of a girl that mysteriously disappeared 30 years ago. So it's up to our main character Jan to decipher the events and quell the force in the woods that seems to have taken a liking to following her. I must tremendously commend Disney on taking a chance on a movie like this, and they did a decent job to make the audience uncomfortable and creeped out, and it kicks off right when the movie starts with misty shots of the forest leading to quite possibly the most unexpected use of camera tracking in the history of film. Friday The 13th really made this style of camera work popular and whether or not the film took influence from it, the results are just as good or dare I even say better than the Friday The 13th series. And it happens several times, each one different than the last, so it's not just oh there it goes following her through the woods again, it keeps it fresh and thusly keeps you on your toes. There's some great camera work that builds this haunting atmosphere, and there are some points where the movie literally tries to distance itself away from the suspense. There's one scene where the family attends a dirt bike race, and it's almost as if the movie said, "The hell is this bike racing nonsense! This is a horror movie, you're not getting out that easy!" cue creepy cam and a flippin' exploding bike aimed at Jan! Dude, that not only further forces this feeling of dread and that the characters cannot escape this force but also gives enough time for more little kids to have a moment to breathe and not be constantly freaked out. Good job movie! I never seen that before. It's not a movie that will make older people shake in their seats and get paranoid, but they can enjoy and appreciate what the film was trying to do and how they did it. It's for kids from like maybe age 6 to early teens, maybe even teens. And you know what, there kinda needs to be more of that. I've said it before but it bears repeating, there's really not that much scary movies you can show kids and I mean that as in a scary movie targeted for kids. I watched the Universal Monster movies around the age of 7 or 9, even though horror movies were not my bag I still liked them. Plus I was actually allowed to watch them, I couldn't deal with stuff like Nightmare On Elm Street or Texas Chainsaw Massacre at that age nor could I watch it. Which is why when I find movies like this I feel obligated to talk about them, because they could turn out to be fondly remembered classics for kids nowadays. Plus they can be seen as good movies and even appreciated beyond the kids movie label it bears.
And one more before the real game begins. Tune in for my 400th review, Something Wicked This Way Comes.