Our Editors’ Favorite Wholesome Fall Movies—Because We’ve Had Enough “Scary” This Year
Family-Friendly Spooky Movies 🎃
We don’t know about you all, but we’re feeling a bit tired of all the suspense and scariness the last two years have thrown at us. That’s why, to feel spirited this fall season, we’re turning to our favorite Halloween(ish) flicks for nostalgia and comfort.
The below list includes films old and new, and even a short series you can watch in segments (or in one sitting!). We hope these family-friendly movies will help you feel festive without adding fear or fright to your night, no matter how you celebrate.
Emily’s Pick: Over The Garden Wall
Recommended By | Emily, Managing Editor
If you want something with heartwarming characters, beautiful imagery, and *just* enough mystery and eeriness to feel Halloween-y, Over The Garden Wall is a must-see. Okay, okay, so it’s not a movie—but it’s 10 episodes that are just over 10 minutes a piece, which makes it a perfect Netflix “nightcap.” It follows the story of two half-brothers, Wirt and Greg, who find themselves in a forest full of enchanted animals and cursed characters. Wirt is an introverted and brooding teenager trying to find his way home. Meanwhile, Greg is animatedly optimistic and inspired by everything he sees. Greg sweetly dotes on a pet frog whose name he keeps changing and reminding Wirt (and us) when things go wrong: “Ain’t that just the way?”
I love this storybook-esque miniseries for its music and metaphor-rich exploration of relationships, growing up, and the unknown. And, if I may be candid, what I consider the most magical sound in the world: Elijah Wood’s voice as Wirt. 🥰
Danielle’s Pick: Matilda
Recommended By | Danielle, Partnerships Manager
Based on Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel of the same name, Matilda is full of witchy, fall vibes. The titular telekinetic kid enrolls in an elementary school, and a good vs. evil battle ensues. Her criminal parents (played by Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman) are far more neglectful than nurturing, but Matilda—6 years old, sweet, and intelligent AF—comes out on top.
She makes televisions explode when she’d rather be reading, thwarts FBI agents, and protects her fellow students from the school’s tyrannical principal Miss Trunchbull. In the end, she forms a lasting bond with a teacher (Miss Honey) who sees and supports her superpowers instead of stifling them.
Henah’s Pick: Halloweentown
Recommended By | Henah, Editor
I was 13 years old when my family got cable. So while I didn’t see this Disney movie premiere in the ’90s, I was the same age as its protagonist Marnie when I first saw it.
As soon as she hits her teen years, Marnie learns that she’s a witch just like her grandmother, played by the inimitable Debbie Reynolds. Marnie and her family must team up to stop an evil force from taking over Halloweentown, where her grandmother lives.
While the special effects are definitely a bit dated, you’ll still feel transported to a fantasy world with ghouls and goblins (and don’t worry, it’s not too spooky either!). Whenever the first crisp leaf hits the ground, I turn on this comedy-adventure for a hit of nostalgia, and it never disappoints. (And there’s a sequel worth watching, too!)
Kayti’s Pick: Scooby-Doo On Zombie Island
Recommended By | Kayti, Senior Editor
I don’t have much of a stomach for scary movies. I watched my fair share of horror films in high school (often through my fingers or with my eyes squinted half-open). Today I much prefer lighthearted films or something with action and suspense—no gore or ghosts for me, please.
One spooky movie I can get behind though is this nostalgic flick from my childhood. My brother was a Scooby-Doo fanatic, and I have endless memories of us watching the Cartoon Network series on my grandmother’s couch (we didn’t have cable at home). When the movie came out, we bought it on VHS and watched it on loop endlessly.
The mystery gang seeks to solve a crime on a remote island with undead pirates and zombies (before Hollywood made them cool). It’s now a film I return to for just enough thrill and spook to feel festive. And of course, to sing along to the classic line: Scooby-Dooby-Doo!
It’s currently available on Amazon Prime.
Alyssa’s Pick: Coco
Recommended By | Alyssa, Social + Community Lead
Coco follows the story of Miguel—a young aspiring musician (despite his family’s generational ban on music)—through a mystical and magical evening in the Land of the Dead.
On the hunt for his idol, legendary musician Ernesto de la Cruz, Miguel unlocks his true family history alongside Hector, a cunning and quick-witted trickster who’s trying to make his way to the side of the Living.
I love this movie because it’s vibrant, heartwarming, tear-jerking, and uplifting. It also beautifully captures the cultural significance of Día de los Muertos.
Share your favorite spooky “enough” movies with us in the comments below! 👻
Kayti Christian (she/her) is an Editor at The Good Trade. She has a Master’s in Nonfiction Writing from the University of London and is the creator of Feelings Not Aside, a newsletter for enneagram 4s and other sensitive-identifying people. Outside of writing, she loves hiking, reading memoir, and the Oxford comma.