A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Monster High: Haunted is another animated DVD entry in the popular Mattel franchise about assorted teen monsters, vampires, ghosts, and so on. The doe-eyed, curvy high school "ghouls" in iffy costumes haven't changed, but the emphasis is on character, diversity, and some straightforward issues that affect real-world high school kids today -- in this instance, careless blogging, rumor-mongering, and gossip. Other than some spooky music, eerie sounds, and an appropriately evil school principal with a mysterious past who likes to keep kids in detention by chaining them, there's nothing really scary or intense. Kids who are comfortable with real vs. pretend violence should have no problem here. With this DVD, fans who enjoy the otherworldly aspects of the stories will be introduced to a new high school filled with a variety of ghosts, both heroic and wicked. And, of course, Mattel encourages those fans with many new dolls and toys on their already considerable list of products.
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What's the story?
Something strange is going on at school in MONSTER HIGH: HAUNTED. While the ghostly Spectra Vondergeist (voiced by Erin Fitzgerald) is desperately looking for material for her gossipy blog, Draculaura (Sue Swan) is sure she's being haunted. Confiding her fears to Spectra, Draculaura is stunned to learn there's a secret world with another school very close by: Haunted High, populated entirely by ghosts. Spectra has never told anyone before, but now she's sure someone there can help. And maybe she'll find the story she's been looking for; after all, there hasn't been a haunting in ages, not since the Legend of the Red Lady roamed the spirit world. When Spectra sets off for Haunted High and doesn't return, Draculaura enlists the help of her ghoul friends, and they go after their missing friend. Haunted High is more frightening than they could have imagined. They're in danger of being captured by Principal Revenant, desperate to fit the intruders with "detention chains" and keep them forever. Using the magical powers of her three evil Hall Moanitors and by starting a hateful rumor about the ghouls from Monster High, Revenant succeeds in her evil plan. But help is only a whisper away; two Haunted High students, Portergeist (a handsome painter ghost who finds Spectra very appealing) and Kiyomi Haunterly have special powers, too. Together with their new friends, Draculaura and her buddies face off against Principal Revenant. Will they unearth the mystery of the strange new haunting? Will they escape and return to their beloved school?
Is it any good?
It's a treat when the filmmakers creating franchise (or brand) DVDs attempt to do more than sell the company toys. This Monster High movie is a good example of such an effort. It stands on its own with an interesting story, lots of humor emanating from already well-known characters, and a brightly effective style. It's enjoyable as it lives up to the task of introducing new products. Of course, the skimpy costumes and curvy teen bodies are unchanging, but there's enough fun, positive behavior, and simple messages to provide some balance. Nothing really scary here; the use of "detention" chains, though frequent, is not ominous enough to upset kids who are familiar with this kind of cartoon jeopardy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this story's notion that gossip and rumors can be harmful. What evidence have you seen in your life that supports that fact? Other than not passing such talk on, in what ways can you help stop it? Does it sometimes require courage to take a stand?
Spectra and Portergeist love writing and painting as activities that let them express themselves. Which activities help you in that way? Why is it important to make time for them?
Are you intrigued by the many new characters/dolls in this story? How does your family deal with the pressure to purchase toys associated with movies or TV?
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