I am trying to research what target audience my animation could be for, which isn't an easy task as I want to aim this project towards children but don't know many myself.
The idea is that the animation will be in black and white with a Calligari - esque feeling and lots of fake shock moments where the Hookworm bites, and writing it is very easy but actually deciding what everything looks like and how the children will take it is a completely different matter. After a little bit of research I have also realised that I have to be careful as some children are still looking for the barrier between reality and fiction and might be deeply shocked by a worm biting people. So I might go with Emma's suggestion of aiming the animation towards ~12 year old children, boys maybe, as they would (by her reckoning) love a bit of horror, find it "cool and mature" and would be rather fascinated by being grossed out while at the same time (hopefully) being old enough to tell the difference between an animation and reality!
By reading this article it seems I'm on the right track: http://anthonyhorowitz.com/msgboard/index.php?topic=3150.0;wap2 The author stresses that suspense and not-being-talked-down-to seem the most important aspects to concentrate on right next to not "dumbing it down" but taking the gore out. According to the article, a bit of shock and lots of action are the key to a happy early - teen audience.
"Kids who are 8-to-10 years old can handle being scared for longer
periods of time -– in fact, they love it. Bring on the phantoms and
ghoulish faces, but continue to choose films without gore or physical
harm. Some intense moments are fun as long as the resolution involves a
happy ending." https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/scary-movies-tips
This website suggests that under 7 years children should not watch anything scarier than "boo" while children from 8 years onwards might enjoy a little jumpiness as long as it doesn't contain gore and violence. They further say that from 12 years on lots of children will be into horror and suspense (that is non-gory) and from around 16 years they might be ready for gore as well, if it's not too slashy. They also warn that violence mixed with "sexual situations" might not be the best mix for a teenager starting to explore their sexuality.
I find that this website gives a very good guide to how much scariness is ok for what age group, but they also advise to keep communicating with the children, as they all differ.
Allover, I think 12 years would be a good age to go for as they demand a little bit of scary but don't want anything over the top but probably would like a fairly dark animation with a hookworm who latches on to people!