Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Haunter Movie Poster Image
Creepy ghost story avoids gore but still scares.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
Helping others and appreciating one's family, despite their flaws, are the main positive messages. These are wrapped up in a scary story about a man killing teenage girls.
Positive Role Models & Representations
Lisa may be a petulant teen, prone to sulking and sometimes disrespecting her parents, but when the time comes, she turns out to be a brave and helpful soul, going against seemingly impossible odds to solve an important problem.
In the story, the villain has been kidnapping and killing teen girls for decades and he's a very creepy character; even after his death, he possesses the girls' fathers to continue his murderous streak. Outside of this violent idea, very little overt violence, blood, or gore is shown, though teens will still be very creeped out. There are a few scary "ghost" scenes, and a few scenes of fathers shouting angrily and throwing things around the room. In one scene, the main character's family is shown decomposing and turning into skeletons (they're fine in the next moment). In a climactic scene, the teen heroine tries to strangle the killer.
Language is very infrequent and includes "son of a bitch," "hell," and "Goddamn" a few times, plus "bastard" and "oh my God."
The movie has lots of 1980s artifacts, including rock posters and t-shirts (The Cure, David Bowie, Siouxsie and the Banshees), an Atari Pac-Man video game, Converse shoes, Monopoly and Risk board games, and a Rubik's cube. A scene that takes place in a modern bedroom includes an iPad (or some kind of tablet -- no brand name is shown).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In a couple of scenes, two father characters light up and smoke cigarettes. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Haunter is a kind of low-voltage ghost story that focuses more on characters and mood than on blood and gore. The plot involves a killer who has kidnapped and killed teen girls for years; now he does it as a ghost. Aside from vague descriptions of his acts, very little blood or gore is shown. There are a few scary ghost scenes (including one scene in which the main character's family seems to decompose and turn into skeletons), and characters shouting and throwing temper tantrums. Language is mild and includes uses of "son of a bitch," "hell," "Goddamn," and "bastard." Adults smoke cigarettes in a couple of scenes, and there are several 1980s brand names on display. This movie won't scare older teen horror fans, but it may be fine for sturdy younger teens looking for an introductory horror movie.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byShikibara April 18, 2015

Wonderful introduction to the scary movie genre!

A well written movie that reminds me of the old Goosebumps books in a way, especially in how it's Definitely Teen friendly, and if you're alright with... Continue reading
Adult Written bybmalik6 October 20, 2014


This movie is personally one of my favorites, its not too scary, but it keeps you in. At some scenes you might get a bit jumpy, but other than that you're... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byilikepie367 April 5, 2015

Promising plot turns dull

Very repetitive movie... it got really boring after a while because there were long gaps where nothing was really hoping and times where they were just repeatin... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byHaithamB February 22, 2014

Really good! Give it a chance!

Lisa is a girl who is experiencing the same day over & over again, literally. Her parents are useless; her mother cooks & cleans, her father is... Continue reading

What's the story?

Lisa Johnson (Abigail Breslin) seems to be living the same day over and over again, the same interactions with her mom, dad, and little brother, same meals, same Siouxsie and the Banshees t-shirt, same episode of "Murder, She Wrote" on TV. Unfortunately, Lisa isn't stuck in "Groundhog Day." She and her family are dead and trapped in their house, surrounded by fog. But Lisa begins hearing strange noises, and upon investigating, learns that a series of young women have been kidnapped and killed in this very house. Lisa can't save herself, but she may be able to help the killer's next intended victim.

Is it any good?

Cult director Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice) has come up with an unusual, refreshing take on a typical ghost story. There's no emphasis on gore, blood, language, or sex. Even the scary stuff is muted; instead, the focus is on good, strong characters, an idea, and a mood. The house is kept enshrouded in gray fog, and yet nothing ever seems unnaturally dark. Likewise, the story is cleverly unveiled, getting the biggest "twist" out of the way early so that the characters become more important than plot.
Abigail Breslin's natural sweetness and charisma helps sell the conflicting concepts that, although she's sick of her family, she still loves them. And although she's scared of what's going on, she won't stop investigating. Her rapport with the other characters in the movie suggests a genuine connectedness, and a desire to help (as well as the courage to ask for help). It's as if Natali's supernatural setting stripped away all earthly concerns and arrived at something startlingly pure. Teens looking for a super scary movie without the blood and gore will find what they're looking for here.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's use of violence. What was shown and what was just hinted at? Do you think this movie would have been scarier with more blood and gore? Is there any kind of scare you won't watch?
  • How scary was the movie? What makes a good, scary horror movie?
  • Is the Lisa character a realistic teen? What are her positive and negative qualities?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

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