Hellbender is a coming-of-age horror. (Image via James Lister/ GetYourComicCon)

The Coming-of-Age genre of horror tries to understand the experiences of the human personality that leads towards a catharsis. Tragedy is often the trauma that one experiences while growing up. This is very real, unlike traditional horror which focuses on the supernatural.

the platform
The Platform is a 2019 coming-of-age horror that shows a futuristic prison where inmates in the upper levels are fed while the lower ones starve. (Image via IMDb)

The genre of coming-of-age horror offers a vivid look into the human interactions of pain. It tries to understand how trauma leads to conditions that make the human mind accept all forms of escape.

The toll of trauma and the task of growing up

Coming-of-age horror examines the idea of growing up in terms of the pain it takes. It shows how the trauma from childhood memories affects the mind in unthinkable conditions. It portrays fear as a result of that trauma and the element of fear which dictates the decisions of the individual while growing up.

The witch
The Witch 2016 is a coming-of-age horror directed by Robert Eggars (Image via The Guardian)

The trauma that was induced or experienced in childhood is often repressed. As a result, adult life’s horrors often reflect this repressed fear. Coming-of-age horror tries to explore this idea of catharsis and the expression of these emotions. The supernatural elements can thus also be interpreted as metaphors for the fear within.

Top 3 suggested coming-of-age horror

This section will briefly examine three movies, some of the best examples of this genre. The rankings are based on reviews and critics, also taking into consideration various ratings. Opinions might vary as these are also subjective. Let’s begin!

1. Midsommar (2019), dir. Ari Aster

Midsommar (2019) (Image via MUBI)
  • Midsommar examines the life of Dani, a college student who is in a dependent relationship with her boyfriend.
  • Dani lost her sister to suicide and also the family whom her sister kills, leading Dani to figure out adulthood with such conflicts.
  • This movie shows how Dani takes a trip with her boyfriend to visit a strange cult community. There she finds a space of expression and her conflicts are slowly resolved.
  • Midsommar can be seen as a metaphor for grief and recovery.

2. Jennifer’s Body (2009), dir. Karyn Kusama

Jennifer's Body
Jennifer’s Body (2009) ft. Megan Fox. (Image via IMDb)
  • Jennifer’s Body is a coming-of-age horror narrated by Jennifer’s friend Needy.
  • Jennifer is taken over by a flesh-eating demon after a night out with a band.
  • The film tries to navigate through a relationship between the two friends, and due to the mainstream narrative, it negates that element out of the equation.
  • Jennifer’s Body is a narration of an innocent girl’s life ruined by men who did it out of spite.

3. It Follows (2014), dir. David Robert Mitchell

it follows
It Follows (Image via IMDb)
  • It Follows is the story of a teenage girl Jamie who has sex with her boyfriend at first. The guy then puts her out of her senses and goes on to confess that he has passed her an STD.
  • While it may seem like a medical issue with bleak relevance to horror, STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Demon. The guy tells her that she needs to keep passing it on to as many individuals as she can to stay alive.
  • Unable to tell anyone about this entity the movie becomes serious running away from this demonic entity for Jamie and her friends.
  • This movie becomes a major psychological dive into the mind of a scared teenager and her fear of love.


Coming-of-age horror becomes a field of study as well as a horror subgenre. The ability of it to examine complex emotional setups and put them into metaphorical representations with the help of horror is a complex goal to achieve.

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