We just saw this with a group of third graders from our school because they had a half day off and we thought it would be a fun outing. One parent warned us that it may not be appropriate but we thought, if they've seen "Harry Potter" they could surely handle this. Boy, were we wrong about this being similar to HP! The scary scenes were long and drawn out. It was difficult for the kids (8 and 9 year olds) to comprehend all that was going on. The story line seemed to stay true to the original book in its darkness but there were few light moments to balance it. With Jim Carrey as the lead, I was expecting something more along the lines of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" with Icabod Crane and his hilarious horse running from the headless horseman, but with better animation. The animation was superb, but was it necessary to put so many gruesome images in the film and linger on them so long? As another parent mentioned, the children "ignorance" and "want" were truly frightening. Did we need to see the one good ghost die?? My husband and I both went and we appreciated it, but couldn't enjoy it because we knew our son and his friends weren't enjoying it. My son and his friends said it was the worst movie they'd ever seen and compared which parts they thought were scariest.
I don't think the kids were overly scared but there was a lot that was simply over their heads (it was never explained why the coins were on Marley's dead eyes, we don't meet the maid until we see her in Christmas future and she and her husband are talking about having stolen the bed curtains and shirt off of Scrooge while he lay in the coffin, etc.) and I don't know why they didn't include a visit to the Crachets' home. So, proceed with caution. My son hasn't had nightmares yet but younger audiences should definitely not see this.