A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In this remake of the cheesy William Castle movie (which required special glasses to enable the audience to see the ghosts),
Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham plays Cyrus, a wild-eyed ghostbuster type. We see him barking orders in an incoherent prologue, and then, following the credits, we see a happy family that falls on hard times after the mother is killed in a fire. The next thing you know, math teacher dad, Arthur (Tony Shalhoub), daughter Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth), death-obsessed son Bobby (Alex Roberts) and nanny Maggie (Rah Digga) find out that their rich uncle Cyrus has died and left them his home. The house is all made of glass etched with mysterious inscriptions. At first, the family is delighted. But then, with the help of psychic Daniel Rafkin (Matthew Lillard) and special glasses (a nod to the earlier version), they see that terrifying ghosts are in the basement.
Is it any good?
This big-budget remake is a huge waste of time and talent. Basically this is a "boo!" movie. People get surprised by ghosts and get attacked by them. They run away and get chased by ghosts. They say a lot of cornball lines like, "Who are you to play God?" and "Wait right here!" And then they get chased and attacked again. No one seems to have paid much attention to the script. They mention that Arthur is a math professor, but then show him counting on his fingers. And a scene that requires Kathy to stay in the bathroom for quite a while leaves Shannon Elizabeth with nothing to do but stroke her hair and splash water on her face. The original had a dumb script, but it was unpretentious enough that it was more fun to watch than this mess. The remake steals from classics like The Shining, Poltergeist, and The Uninvited and still manages to be more tedious than scary. F. Murray Abraham should hock his Oscar before he ever agrees to do something like this again. The Maggie character is particularly offensive. The "sassy black maid" stereotype went out of style more than 50 years ago.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about if the extreme level of violence is really necessary. Can you think of other movies that scared you without excessive gore? Families who see this movie should also talk about whether they believe in the supernatural and what makes some people want to control everyone around them.
- In theaters: October 26, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: April 2, 2002
- Cast: F. Murray Abraham, Shannon Elizabeth, Tony Shalhoub
- Director: Steve Beck
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: extreme violence and gore, nudity, and language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019