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Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that though this tween-targeted, PG-rated "horror" movie is pretty tame -- there's no serious swearing, just a little kissing, and no real gore -- some parts may still be too scary for little kids. The ghostly special effects aren't sophisticated, but sensitive young viewers may be convinced enough to be frightened. Talk of evil spirits and supernatural rituals may also disturb, as may a scene in which an old woman parades around with a shotgun.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In SARAH LANDON AND THE PARANORMAL HOUR, the titular teen becomes embroiled in ghostly doings in small-town Pine Valley. Lacking the artificial gloss of tabloid regulars, she comes across as the perfect girl next door who gets pulled into a mystery not of her own doing. Upon arriving in Pine Valley, Sarah quickly unearths the town's worst-kept secret: that 20-year-old David Baker (Brian Comrie) is convinced he's being hunted down by the malevolent spirit of Ben Woods (Rusty Hanes). Ben is the father of David's old friend, Johnny, who died when a car being driven by David's mother (Nicole des Coteaux) was in an accident. Is it possible for the dead to haunt the living? And does this mean David will die on his 21st birthday?
Is it any good?
Here's what good about Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour: Rissa Walters. Though the young actress is rough around the edges, she brings a sweetness to Sarah. Writer-director Lisa Comrie displays a rudimentary understanding of suspense-building. Though she often overplays her hand, some scenes manage to goose viewers effectively -- despite the restlessness that's likely to beset them the rest of the time. Because although Comrie has the best intentions, Sarah Landon is beyond amateurish.
The premise is interesting enough, but any promise is quickly overwhelmed by Lisa Comrie's clear inexperience. Camera set-ups are awkward, transitions are ragged, and the plot is full of holes. Casting her brothers (and other family members) in lead roles also proves to be a bad idea, as evidenced by their ham-handed approach. (Dan Comrie is smoother as David's younger brother, Matt). The big "confrontation scene" is almost laughable for its superficiality; you have to wonder what would have happened had Comrie had the ability to dig deeper to find a resolution.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the supernatural. Do you believe in haunted houses, spirits, or paranormal events? If so, why? If not, why? Why is Hollywood so interested in ghost stories? What makes them so compelling? Is it fun to get scared at the movies? Why or why not? Why do you think some people like horror movies and others don't?
- In theaters: October 19, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: September 8, 2008
- Cast: Brian Comrie, Dan Comrie, Rissa Walters
- Director: Lisa Comrie
- Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 81 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, mild peril and language.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.