A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that R.L. Stine's Mostly Ghostly: One Night in Doom House is the 2016 entry in this movie series from the creator of Goosebumps. Based on the premise of a teen's friendship with two young ghosts who inhabit his home, the stories send the hero into action-packed, cartoonish adventures that involve magic, dastardly otherworldly villains, and lots of slapstick jeopardy. Spooky lighting, storms, eerie music, ominous buildings, and lots of things that go bump in the night fill the screen. When a cackling scoundrel wants to "release an army of ghosts upon the world and plunge it into darkness," it's clearly not intended for young kids who aren't comfortable with real versus imaginary violence. There's a bit of teen romance, peer pressure (including a bullying rich kid), and family dissension, all which serve to make the leading character sympathetic and relatable. As usual, teachers and parents are clueless and, though responsible and concerned, are not there to save the day. Note: To keep the familiar characters the same ages, the cast is made up of new actors.
What's the story?
Just when things are going right for young Max Doyle (Corey Fogelmanis) in R.L. STINE'S MOSTLY GHOSTLY: ONE NIGHT IN DOOM HOUSE, his world is upended. Because he's the protector and friend of Nicky (Blake Michael) and Tara (Olivia Ryan Stern), two teen ghosts who are counting on him to help them find their lost parents, he becomes a target of the evil Mr. Morgo (Danny Trejo) and his nefarious accomplice, Mr. Phears (Adam Tsekhman), whose goals are nothing less than capturing Nicky and Tara, obtaining a magic jewel, and then destroying the world. Events at Max's school don't help matters. As he tries to help raise money for an upcoming school dance contest, his relationship with Cammie (Sophie Reynolds), the girl of his dreams, starts to break because of the strange happenings that seem to follow him. When Max turns to the man he considers an expert on ghostly matters, TV's egomaniacal "Ghosthunter," Simon Drake (Jamie Kennedy), things go from bad to worse. The danger culminates when Phears gets close to accomplishing his goal in a derelict old mansion that proves to be more than simply haunted. It's overrun with dangers in every nook and cranny. Will Max be able to rescue his friendly ghosts? Will the planet survive the machinations of Mr. Morgo and Phears? And, most important, will Max and Cammie get back together?
Is it any good?
It doesn't take much more than silly situations, primitive special effects, and over-the-top villains to entertain kids who like spooky movies as undemanding and relatively scare-free as this one. R.L. Stine's Mostly Ghostly: One Night in Doom House, a low-budget, simplistic fright-fest, will appeal to those who enjoy nearly nonstop action, a few minor-league twists, and characters who are as lightweight as the plot. The send-up of a modern reality-television star -- an outrageous characterization by Jamie Kennedy -- is fun, if obvious, and Corey Fogelmanis, this year's Max Doyle, is appealing in the role. But many of the featured players and production values are by-the-numbers at best. It's harmless entertainment set in a teen environment without substance or depth, and it's only appropriate for kids who are old enough to fully understand that the scares are make-believe.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why audiences like scary movies. Because it's made for kids, R.L. Stine's Mostly Ghostly: One Night in Doom House and the others in this franchise may be the first such movies that they see. What emotions do you think this genre taps into for both young and old?
It's very clear from the start that this movie is meant to be funny-scary rather than truly frightening. What clues do the filmmakers give early on to set the tone?
Do movies like this one motivate you to read the R.L. Stine Mostly Ghostly books? Does reading a book generally motivate you to see the movie or vice versa? What is different about the two experiences? Does familiarity with one medium make the other more enjoyable?
- On DVD or streaming: September 13, 2016
- Cast: Corey Fogelmanis, Sophie Reynolds, Jamie Kennedy
- Director: Ron Oliver
- Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, High School, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action, scary images, and mild language
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