Haunter Movie Poster Image




Creepy ghost story avoids gore but still scares.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 97 minutes

What parents need to know

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
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.
Not applicable
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. 

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:October 18, 2013
DVD/Streaming release date:February 11, 2014
Cast:Abigail Breslin, Peter Outerbridge, Stephen McHattie
Director:Vincenzo Natali
Studio:IFC Entertainment
Run time:97 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Haunter was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • The Sixth Sense Poster Image
    Great, but sometimes scarier than R-rated horror.
  • The Others Poster Image
    Good but creepy; may be too intense for some.
  • The Woman in Black Poster Image
    Macabre ghost story is slow but creepy enough for teens.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bywonder dove October 23, 2013

OK for 13+

The movie was not bad, but not really my taste which should not stop you from watching it - you may enjoy it! Haunter involves a teenager, Lisa (Abigale Breslin) who realizes that each day is always the same. Same conversations, same clothes, same chores, same dinner, same TV show episode, everything! Lisa gets to a point where it's just too much and that something is definitely wrong. When she begins to hear voices and see figures of other girls including a young teenage girl named Olivia, she quickly learns that she and her family are dead and a new family is living there instead. Her only contact is through Olivia. She must keep contact with the other side to save the family from meeting the same fate as hers, but can she succeed while dark forces are preventing it? It's confusing, but it steers clear of any blood and gore like most. It lacks scares and was definitely NOT scary so if you're looking for that, pass on this. It would be perfect for 13 and up who may not be into the hardcore blood & guts horror films but be aware that it does drag on. A few other movies I'd recommend along this theme yet much much much better and scarier (but not over the top) are The Sixth Sense, The Others, A Haunting in Connecticut, Devil ('10). The language is infrequent and includes d@mn, Godd@mn, D@mmit, hell, b@sterd, b*tch, oh-my-God. Violence has angry shouting and throwing objects, ghostly figures, references to murder, a caged ghost-girl is seen and then she catches fire and burns, a girls family turns to skeletons when they're found dead at a dinner table and you see them start to decay, a father gets possessed, a girl strangles a man. No sexual content or drugs to worry about. Some smoking. I give it 2 stars for the idea and Abigale Breslin's performance. 13 years and up is fair.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byColeZett12345 October 26, 2013

Pretty Good

Haunter is about a dead teenage girl named Lisa living with her dead family, who were murdered. Lisa realizes that her family does the exact same routine every single day, and then she hears strange voices, and sees strange things. This movie is very creepy, and has some violence. Lisa watches as her family decomposes before her eyes, but it was just a hallucination. In two scenes, her dad trows things around the kitchen, and screams at his wife and Lisa. It also shows a boy smothering his parents. A girl burns alive. Lisa tries to strangle a man. There is a lot of smoking. Overall there is a positive message about respecting your family, and being brave. Overall, I think this movie is fine for kids 13 and up.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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 trying to fix the car all the time & her little brother plays video games & also plays with his imaginary friend, looks familiar "imaginary friend". In fact, this movie is anything but familiar, it is one of the most twisted horror movies I have ever seen, Abigail Breslin pulls it off again with a noticeable performance, the cinematography is unique in style & the visuals are more than just enough for such independent movie. Is it perfect? No, but near. If you are going into the movie expecting some familiar haunted house horror movie to pass time this is not the perfect movie for you, you have to connect the dots & figure things out for yourself.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking