A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Positive MessagesHelping 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 ModelsLisa 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.
Violence & ScarinessIn 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.
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LanguageLanguage is very infrequent and includes "son of a bitch," "hell," and "Goddamn" a few times, plus "bastard" and "oh my God."
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Products & PurchasesThe 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 & SmokingIn a couple of scenes, two father characters light up and smoke cigarettes.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.