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12 Not-Too-Spooky Halloween Movies for the Whole Family
Halloween is always a night of creative costumes, delicious candy and fun frights. Of course, kids love the opportunity to challenge their courage by entering haunted houses, swapping spine-chilling stories and watching scary movies . That’s a lot of spookiness for one day, though, and with the wrong film, they may be too frightened to fall asleep at bedtime. (And of course, getting them to bed in time for you to enjoy a proper horror film , like a Stephen King adaptation or classic vampire flick might be an important part of your grown-up Halloween experience!)
Fortunately, there are lots of wonderfully fun — and only slightly creepy — movies out there that kids will enjoy this year. From oldies like Hocus Pocus to newer films like a stellar remake of The Witches , this list has plenty of options that’ll delight much more than they’ll scare. Check out 12 of the best kid-friendly Halloween flicks that make not-too-spooky treats for the entire family!
The Goosebumps book series by R.L. Stine has thrilled kids across the world since the 1990s. The series has been adapted for both TV and film, including a newer franchise for younger generations who aren’t familiar with these classics.
The 2015 flick, aptly titled Goosebumps , stars Jack Black as a fictionalized version of Stine alongside Dylan Minnette, who plays his teenage neighbor. The two team up to take down monsters from the Goosebumps series that have managed to escape from the books and cause chaos in the real world. The film is frightening fun for kids, and there’s enough action to keep parents entertained — especially if they’re former fans of the series.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
A trio of 300-year-old witches (Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker) conjures up a little bit of hocus pocus in this Halloween classic. The 1993 film centers on what happens when the Sanderson sisters are accidentally brought back from the dead on All Hallow’s Eve.
Attempting to recapture their youth, the witches plan to steal the souls of the children of Salem, Massachusetts, so they can live for eternity. Three kids, a talking black cat and, eventually, a friendly zombie have to work together to stop the sinister sisters before it’s too late. Hocus Pocus is certain to put a spell on you this Halloween.
Spirited Away (2001)
If you’re new to the world of Miyazaki , Spirited Away is a great place to start. This classic film from Studio Ghibli follows our protagonist Chihiro, just as she and her parents move to a new town. As they explore, they find what appears to be an abandoned theme park, but Chihiro quickly realizes that she has somehow crossed into the realm of spirits. Oh, and her parents have been turned into pigs. As she learns to navigate the spirit world, and ultimately free herself and her parents, she meets many memorable characters along the way.
The film won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and became the top-grossing film in Japanese history. Don’t let the strange plot deter you. This film has won the hearts of many, and is a perfect addition to a Halloween lineup for the whole family.
These guys ain’t afraid of no ghosts, probably because the ghosts in this film aren’t too scary. This family-friendly comedy-horror was a smash at the box office in the 80s and has retained its appeal in the decades to follow. Sequels and remakes have attempted to capitalize on the success of the original, but have repeatedly fallen short.
Pop some popcorn and prepare to be entertained as a trio of paranormal exterminators face off against a gluttonous ghost, a pack of demonic dogs, and the iconic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Monsters, Inc . is a fun comedy about — what else? — two monsters, Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman), who are the number-one scare team at the scream-processing factory in the town of Monstropolis. The film, released in 2001, follows their misadventures after a human girl named Boo makes her way into their world.
Together, the two have to figure out a way to get Boo home before anyone discovers this unimaginable mistake. Despite their best efforts, which include dressing Boo up as a baby monster, they run into plenty of roadblocks along the way. Kids will probably fall in love with the cuddly Sulley before they feel an ounce of fear during this film!
The Witches (2020)
The Witches (2020) is a fantasy-comedy film based on Roald Dahl’s novel of the same name. This reimagining of the original 1990 film follows an orphaned boy who goes to live with his grandmother in Alabama. After coming across a witch, the boy and his grandmother flee to a hotel to escape her evil clutches. However, the world’s Grand High Witch happens to be staying there — along with disguised, diabolical witches from all over the world who are helping her turn children into mice.
This remake of The Witches is an HBO Max original starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer and Stanley Tucci — and it’s certainly a top choice for your family’s Halloween movie marathon.
The 2009 animated film Coraline is based on a dark fantasy novella of the same name. With Dakota Fanning voicing the titular character, the movie follows a young girl who discovers an alternate world that closely mirrors her own — but seemingly much happier. It’s complete with a parallel family that appears, at first sight, to be much better than the one she has.
However, when Coraline’s Other Mother (Teri Hatcher) and the rest of this parallel family try to keep her in their new world forever, she has to fight to make it back home. Kids are sure to find the stop-motion animation and colorful sets of Coraline enchanting.
In the 1988 film, Beetlejuice , a couple dies in a car accident and finds themselves stuck in their former country home instead of a pleasant afterlife. When a new family moves in to the farmhouse, the dead couple tries to scare them away, but to no avail. They enlist the help of the troublemaking poltergeist Beetlejuice, who turns out to be a hazard to everyone involved.
The classic film has an all-star cast that includes Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin and Winona Ryder. Directed by Tim Burton, the movie offers a comedic twist on a supernatural tale that families will enjoy. Just don’t be surprised if the film’s soundtrack sparks an impromptu dance party.
Starring Kimberly J. Brown and the late, great Debbie Reynolds, Halloweentown is a Disney Channel original movie that premiered in 1998. Today, it’s revered as a classic Halloween film among the now-adults who grew up watching it every year decades ago.
On her 13th birthday, Marnie Cromwell discovers that she’s a witch, as is everyone else in her family. She and her younger siblings sneak off to Halloweentown, where her grandmother lives, to learn more about their family’s history and so Marnie can begin her witch training before it’s too late. The visit goes awry when they discover that an evil force is attempting to take over the town — but with a little magic, Marnie and her siblings can save the day.
The Addams Family (2019)
There have been several reimaginings of the original Addams Family over the years — did you know the first cartoons were created in 1938? — but this animated film from 2019 is an especially fun version for kids. In the movie, Gomez, Morticia and the rest of the Addams clan prepare to welcome relatives for a visit. But when a TV personality attempts to get rid of them, the family has to prove that their creepy and kooky ways are no threat to their idyllic neighborhood.
The Addams Family features the voiceover talents of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Alison Janney, Chloë Grace Moretz and others. If your family can’t get enough of this endearingly macabre group, you’ll be happy to know a sequel was just released — and it’s available to rent on streaming .
It’s time to pass this cornerstone of Halloween weirdness to a new generation! The 1986 film Labyrinth is a cult classic for so many reasons, from its fantastical setting to its magical plot to the fact that it stars the one and only David Bowie — and includes danceworthy original songs from the Starman himself.
The story follows teenager Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) as she travels through an otherworldly maze, solving riddles to rescue her baby brother from Bowie’s Jareth the Goblin King. Most of the film’s main characters are played by puppets from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, which is sure to delight kids (and deliver you an enjoyable dose of nostalgia).
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
You can’t have a kid-approved Halloween movie fest without watching 1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas . The story follows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, who’s grown bored with the same old scare routine of Halloween each year. When he stumbles upon a door to Christmas Town, he decides to put his own twist on the holiday, causing complete havoc in the process.
The spooky-but-fun Tim Burton film stars Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara and Ken Page. What’s even better about this classic is that it doubles as a Halloween and Christmas movie — and there’s no better time of year to get into the holiday spirit!
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Is ‘Haunted Mansion’ a family-friendly movie? A look at why the movie is rated PG-13
Worried about taking your kids to the horror-comedy here is why ‘haunted mansion’ earned a pg-13 rating.
This image released by Disney Enterprises shows, from left, Owen Wilson, Rosario Dawson, LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish and Danny DeVito in a scene from “Haunted Mansion.”
Disney Enterprises via Associated Press
It’s been 20 years since “The Haunted Mansion,” starring Eddie Murphy, landed in theaters. Now comes the spooky movie’s PG-13 sequel. The 2003 “Haunted Mansion” movie was made for young audiences, but the sequel is expected to be a little scarier and directed at older audiences.
“This one’s a fun one and it’s PG-13. The thing that was great about Eddie’s was that it was PG, so a lot of my friends’ kids could watch it a little younger,” Rosario Dawson, who stars in “Haunted Mansion,” told People .
“I’m having to get people to get babysitters to watch mine ‘cause it’s a little older. But it’s good. It’s a nice continuation of the theme and the world, but they’re two very separate films.”
“Haunted Mansion” earned a PG-13 rating for violence and frightening scenes. Let’s take a deeper look at what parents can expect from “Haunted Mansion” and why it is rated PG-13.
Why is ‘Haunted Mansion’ rated PG-13?
According to Common Sense Media , “Haunted Mansion” is rated PG-13 for violence, frightening scenes, supernatural elements such as dark magic and the appearance of a Ouija board and some alcohol use. The site recommends the movie for kids 11 years old and older.
“Haunted Mansion” is not rated PG-13 for language. According to IMDb , there is very little profanity in the movie.
Common Sense Media praised the film for featuring diverse representation and positive messages, such as learning to understand and express grief.
“Parents need to know that ‘Haunted Mansion’ is a tween-friendly supernatural comedy,” writes Common Sense Media . “Spirits have an edge of silliness to them, but a couple (like an axe-wielding bride with demon eyes) are genuinely unsettling. Ghosts swirl through the screen in bulk, and characters — including a child — are in constant peril. All of this makes the movie more appropriate for older tweens and teens than younger or more sensitive children.”
The Motion Picture Association gave “Haunted Mansion” a PG-13 rating for some thematic elements and scary action, according to IMDb .
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‘Haunted Mansion’ features frightening scenes
“Haunted Mansion” is full of frightening scenes that might not be suitable for young children.
There are countless scenes with supernatural violence, according to Parent Previews . Suicide is mentioned, a character is seen possessed, people are chased by ghosts, there are frequent mentions of death, and a child sees his dead mother in a casket. Children are seen in peril.
‘Haunted Mansion’ is a comedy based on a Disneyland ride
The spooky film balances scary scenes with humor — just like the beloved Disneyland ride. “Haunted Mansion” is actually filled with references to the California theme park ride, according to USA Today .
Director Justin Simien revealed in an interview with MovieWeb that his connection to “Haunted Mansion” dates back to his childhood experiences on the Disneyland ride.
“That’s how the ride was made, it was a back and forth. They could not decide if this ride should be funny or scary, or for children or for adults. These are the actual conversations that Walt Disney and the Imagineers had making the ride,” director Justin Simien told MovieWeb . “They somehow landed on this weird, magical formula.”
“It has this wonderful mix of humor and tragedy. It doesn’t pull punches,” added Simien. “You see a man hanging from the stretching room the moment it starts. You’re literally moving through a graveyard. This is a scary, weird ride. It was one that I rode at 9 years old. It made me feel like I could handle scary stuff. It didn’t take me out of the fight.”
“It became something that I could ride over and over again. I grew up, still really enjoying it, and feel like it spoke to me. That was the guiding star,” he explained. “My brain just kind of functions that way. It’s a tragic comedy at all times in here. It felt very natural to me.”
Despite being filled with spooky scenes, for older kids, “Haunted Mansion” is mostly a comedy. The majority of scary scenes are brief and followed with comedic relief.
- Is ‘Barbie’ a family-friendly movie? A look at why the upcoming movie is rated PG-13
Critics are calling ‘Haunted Mansion’ a ‘family-friendly horror-comedy’
Early critic reviews of “Haunted Mansion” are categorizing the movie under “family-friendly.”
“Family-friendly horror-comedies have always been a tough subgenre: You need the scares to prove your horror bona fides, but go too far and the children will run screaming from the theater; rely too much on comedy and you’ll undermine the thrills,” wrote Vulture . “That’s a lot to ask of any film. It’s amazing that anything in ‘Haunted Mansion’ works.”
“This ghoulish gathering is a family-friendly affair,” wrote USA Today . “‘Haunted Mansion’ pulls off a pleasant and fantastical brush with the hereafter and is a good first horror movie for youngsters where a ghostly mummy won’t have them running for their mommy.”
When does ‘Haunted Mansion’ come out?
“Haunted Mansion” was released in theaters on July 28.
Watch the trailer for ‘Haunted Mansion’ below
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Haunted Mansion (2023) Parent Guide
For a movie that tries to be scary, this flick is surprisingly lifeless..
Theaters: A woman enlists a motley crew to help rid her home of ghosts, one of whom has a terrifying goal.
Release date July 28, 2023
Run Time: 122 minutes
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The guide to our grades, parent movie review by kirsten hawkes.
On New Year’s Eve, Ben Matthias (LaKeith Stanfield), an astrophysicist with a promising career, bumps into Alyssa (Charity Jordan), a vivacious young woman who leads ghost tours in New Orleans. Romance kindles between the two, but soon we see Ben, drunk and disheveled, living alone in a decrepit little house. He now has a job leading historical tours through the city, but there’s a mysterious camera tucked away in a box at home that partially explains the change in his circumstances.
Returning to Louisiana for a fresh start, Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and her son Travis (Chase Dillon) drive up to the house she purchased online. The physician hopes to turn the mansion into a bed and breakfast but soon discovers that the house is haunted. Aggressively haunted. If she and Travis are going to have a safe place to live, they’ll need some help.
Let me begin by saying that I do not object to Disney using its theme park rides as fodder for movies. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, for instance, offers entertaining films that expand the world of the beloved ride. This film, however, is an unmitigated disaster. It lacks the madcap excitement of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, featuring instead two agonizingly long hours of boring ghosts, ineffective jump scares, and product placements. I noted mentions of Burger King, Costco, Amazon, Baskin & Robbins, and Yankee Candles in the script and was annoyed each time. When I’ve paid good money for a ticket, I don’t want to have Disney slip mini-ads into the film script. (It’s not as if the studio needs the money.) Whether or not that bugs you as much as it irks me is an open question, but, don’t worry, there’s plenty here to dislike.
Ironically, for a tale that bounces between mortality and the afterlife, this movie feels strangely lifeless. The cast are doing their best – LaKeith Stanfield’s puppy dog eyes get a real workout as he emotes with grieving sincerity – but the story is hollow. As one predictable jump scare after another popped up on screen, and one shrieking ghost followed another, I just felt bored and surprisingly sleepy. It’s not just me, either – the screening I attended was very quiet, with little in the way of laughter or stifled screams. For a comic ghost story, this is a very bad sign.
Parents with a passion for ghost stories should take note of the PG-13 rating: this is not a film for six year-olds. Although the violence isn’t bloody, there are multiple scenes of supernatural violence, including physical attacks, use of weapons, and attempted poisonings. Characters discuss murder and suicide and mention a character who practices dark magic and blood sacrifice. Religious parents should also note the frequent séances where the medium summons the spirits of the dead and one séance in which a character’s soul leaves his body and wanders around the house.
As scary ghost stories go, this isn’t too gory, but it isn’t exciting either. In fact, I think Disney has misfired with this flick. After sitting through the movie, I feel far less motivated to wait in line for the Haunted Mansion on my next trip to a Disney theme park. The movie has taken the shine off the ride for me. I can guarantee that’s the kind of reaction that’s going to send a shiver through the Mouse House.
Kirsten hawkes, watch the trailer for haunted mansion (2023).
Haunted Mansion (2023) Rating & Content Info
Why is Haunted Mansion (2023) rated PG-13? Haunted Mansion (2023) is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some thematic elements and scary action.
Violence: There are frequent scenes of supernatural violence. People are chased by ghosts and attacked with a hatchet. There is an attempted assault with a candlestick. Characters are trapped in a room with alligators snapping at them as they try to escape. There are scenes of possession. A possessed character tries to poison his friends. A man has a heart attack. A home experiences a flood caused by supernatural forces. A man is hit by a bus (off-screen) and is shown in hospital with no visible injuries. There’s mention of a fatal car accident in which a person dies and another in which a dog is killed. Someone tells a historical story of a person being beheaded: the murder is depicted in animated silhouettes. A woman in the same era is reputed to have decapitated five husbands with a hatchet. An evil character apparently had a past that involved dark magic and blood sacrifice. A child sees his dead mother in her casket and is purportedly punished for weeping. Suicide is mentioned. A dead man is seen holding a bottle of poison. Objects are tossed around rooms by invisible ghosts. Two ghosts shoot at each other in a duel and hit another character. Sexual Content: There’s mention of a man’s mistress. Profanity: The script contains a handful of terms of deity and a minor profanity. Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults consume alcohol in social situations. A main character gets drunk and is shown hungover.
Page last updated July 27, 2023
Related home video titles:
If you’re looking for a scary movie for kids that has better writing and editing, you can try The House with a Clock in its Walls. Described as “gothic horror” for kids, this movie manages to be both scary and funny. And it stars Jack Black, which is a plus.
If it’s ghost movies you’re after, you can try Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call and Ghostbusters: Afterlife . Darby and the Dead has an even lighter touch with its tale of a teen who helps ghosts pass over to the other side.
For a less frightening haunted house tale, you can watch the animated Monster House . If you want to terrify yourself with haunted house horror stories, check out The Night House or His House.
- Cast & crew
- User reviews
A single mom named Gabbie hires a tour guide, a psychic, a priest and a historian to help exorcise her newly bought mansion after discovering it is inhabited by ghosts. A single mom named Gabbie hires a tour guide, a psychic, a priest and a historian to help exorcise her newly bought mansion after discovering it is inhabited by ghosts. A single mom named Gabbie hires a tour guide, a psychic, a priest and a historian to help exorcise her newly bought mansion after discovering it is inhabited by ghosts.
- Justin Simien
- Katie Dippold
- LaKeith Stanfield
- Rosario Dawson
- Owen Wilson
- 244 User reviews
- 154 Critic reviews
- 47 Metascore
- See more at IMDbPro
- Ben Matthias
- Father Kent
- Bruce Davis
- Madame Leota
- (as Chase W. Dillon)
- William Gracey
- Mariner Ghost
- Hatchet Ghost
- Eleanor Gracey
- New Year's Eve Bartender
- All cast & crew
- Production, box office & more at IMDbPro
Top-Rated Horror in 2023 So Far
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Did you know
- Trivia Gracey Manor is modeled after the original Disneyland Haunted Mansion. Crump Manor is modeled after Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World.
- Goofs When they are reversing away from the mansion, no white back up lights are visible on the tail lights of the car.
Gabbie : I know this place isn't as warm as I hoped. But I'm gonna light a vanilla candle, and it's gonna be a game-changer.
Gabbie : Yeah, we gone
- Crazy credits The Disney's 100th anniversary logo had several variations for that film; in the trailer, the logo was set at night, with the moon above, and is lit up in purple and blue lights. Meanwhile in the actual film, the logo is brighter than usual and is desaturated.
- Connections Featured in AniMat's Crazy Cartoon Cast: The HARDCORE Powerpuff Girls (2020)
- Soundtracks His Soul Left Gloss on the Rose Written and Produced by Kris Bowers , Erion Brandon Williams (as Brandon Williams), Derrick James Moss (as Derrick Moss), Paul Michael Robertson (as Paul Robertson), Julian Omari Gosin (as Julian Gosin), Manuel Perkins , Corey Donovan Peyton (as Corey Peyton), Lumar Christopher Leblanc II (as Lumar LeBlanc III), and Marcus Otis Hubbard (as Marcus Hubbard) Performed by The Soul Rebels
User reviews 244
- Jul 28, 2023
October 2023 TV and Streaming Premiere Dates
- July 28, 2023 (United States)
- United States
- Horror Buzz article - Haunted Mansion and Real Hauntings Beyond
- Dinh Thự Ma Ám
- New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
- Walt Disney Productions
- The Walt Disney Company
- See more company credits at IMDbPro
- $150,000,000 (estimated)
- Jul 30, 2023
- Runtime 2 hours 3 minutes
- Dolby Surround 7.1
- Dolby Digital
- Dolby Atmos
- 12-Track Digital Sound
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Haunted mansion, common sense media reviewers.
Ghostly comedy is a spirited ride with peril, some scares.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The specifically stated message is that "Grief can
Characters show compassion and bravery, using team
Written by female screenwriter Katie Dippold and d
Suggested death via suicide: A character drinks so
Flashbacks to Ben and Alyssa falling in love and B
Many brand and store names mentioned. A Burger Kin
Frequent drinking by several adult characters, inc
Parents need to know that Haunted Mansion is a tween-friendly supernatural comedy that's the second movie inspired by the classic Disney theme park ride (the first was released in 2003). The frights are similar to horror-comedy classics like Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice : Spirits have an edge…
The specifically stated message is that "Grief can be a doorway to joy, if one's willing to work on it." But it's more likely to be understood as "we can't let grief consume us." Either way, the film supports the expression of loss and grief, which is a positive thing.
Positive Role Models
Characters show compassion and bravery, using teamwork to face terrifying ghouls in an effort to bring peace to the captured souls. Characters are allowed to experience grief in vulnerable ways and find support through those around them, finding connection.
Written by female screenwriter Katie Dippold and directed by Justin Simien (who's Black and gay). Diverse cast: Main characters include Black actors LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, and multiracial actor Rosario Dawson (Afro-Latino with Native ancestry), as well as White actors Owen Wilson and Danny DeVito. Centers around romantic and familial love between characters of color and shows Black characters' humanity and vulnerability.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Suggested death via suicide: A character drinks something that would kill him, and his body is shown lying on the floor next to the bottle. Ghouls, ghosts, and skeletons abound -- including some without heads. Jump scares. A "black widow" type of bride repeatedly flings her ax at the characters. A duel, which leads to the duelers' demise. Character hit by a car, but the scene cuts before impact. Lots of peril. Alligator chases and snaps at characters. Supernatural elements like dark magic, seances, the appearance of a Ouija board.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Flashbacks to Ben and Alyssa falling in love and Ben proposing. Characters hug and embrace. Implied romantic interest through lingering looks and knowing smiles. Characters discuss spouses who've passed away.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.
Products & Purchases
Many brand and store names mentioned. A Burger King bag is shown; lingering shot of the logo and a mention of one of their food items, indicating likely product placement. The movie is based on an iconic Disneyland ride.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Frequent drinking by several adult characters, including to indicate deep depression and to build courage.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Haunted Mansion is a tween-friendly supernatural comedy that's the second movie inspired by the classic Disney theme park ride (the first was released in 2003 ). The frights are similar to horror-comedy classics like Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice : Spirits have an edge of silliness to them, but a couple (like an ax-wielding bride with demon eyes) are genuinely unsettling. Ghosts swirl through the screen in bulk, and characters -- including a child -- are in constant peril. All of this makes the movie more appropriate for older tweens and teens than younger or more sensitive children. Kids who do want to have the (often powerful) experience of "surviving" watching a scary movie will definitely feel like they're watching a fright fest -- but it's creepy, not screamy, and it's balanced with a sense of humor. Themes do touch on moving on after death and loss (for both the spirits and for living characters who are mourning the loss of a loved one). Adult characters drink throughout, and there are hugs/embraces and references to romance and departed spouses. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .
Where to Watch
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- Parents say (13)
- Kids say (9)
Based on 13 parent reviews
Moderate Scares with a great message about Grief and working as a team
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A child nearly commits suicide in this movie, what's the story.
In HAUNTED MANSION, single mom Gabbie ( Rosario Dawson ) and her 9-year-old son, Travis (Chase W. Dillon), move into a New Orleans mansion that's filled with long-buried secrets -- and several unpleasant ghosts. Hoping to cleanse the house of the evil within, Gabbie hires a scrappy team of paranormal experts to help.
Is It Any Good?
Satisfactorily spooky and just the right amount of scary for tweens and young teens, director Justin Simien 's film is a true adaptation of the iconic Disney attraction. And in this case, "true" means more accurate than the actual Haunted Mansion ride itself, which was created in 1969 and, although set in New Orleans, didn't feature any people of color. Simien corrects that disconnect by casting Black actors in the primary roles and infusing the movie's backdrop with the sounds, sights, and culture of the Crescent City, from alligators to zydeco.
That said, the ride probably has more twists than this film. The story is pretty routine: There's a problem (a haunted house), we meet the experts who will solve the problem, and then they solve it. The humor level is enough to keep a feeling of lightness, which balances the specters on screen. Many of the characters are mourning the loss of a loved one, and the movie does address this with real heart. As a way to spend a couple of hours as a family, this fright-light comedy is a hauntingly good time. Still, a matinee may be advisable to give kids a few hours of daylight to process everything, in case -- just like in the ride -- an apparition jumps into the backseat of a kid's brain and follows them home.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Haunted Mansion compares with other haunted house movies. Were the scary moments too scary? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?
Discuss the movie's message. Do you agree that death isn't the end, but the beginning of a new chapter?
What elements of New Orleans culture did you notice? How does the jazz "second line" funeral connect with the film's theme?
Considering how little iffy content is in this movie (other than the scares!), why do you think drinking was included?
Do you believe in ghosts? Why, or why not?
- In theaters : July 28, 2023
- On DVD or streaming : October 4, 2023
- Cast : LaKeith Stanfield , Rosario Dawson , Jamie Lee Curtis
- Director : Justin Simien
- Inclusion Information : Gay directors, Black directors, Black actors, Female actors, Indigenous actors, Latino actors, Female writers
- Studio : Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre : Comedy
- Topics : Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Character Strengths : Compassion , Courage , Teamwork
- Run time : 122 minutes
- MPAA rating : PG-13
- MPAA explanation : some thematic elements and scary action
- Last updated : October 6, 2023
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Haunted Mansion | 2023 | PG-13 | – 1.4.3
Haunted Mansion SEX/NUDITY 1
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'Haunted Mansion' Scares Up a PG-13 Rating
Looks like audiences are in for a few scares this summer.
A new adaptation of the classic Disney ride is heading to the big screen this summer, and it looks like younger audiences may want to sit out of this one. Disney's highly anticipated Haunted Mansion film is confirmed to be rated PG-13 for "some thematic elements and scary action."
The film's official rating may come as a surprise to many, as most releases under the Disney label typically fall under the G-to-PG category. However, there have been notable examples of exceptions to this, with the most popular being the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise alongside recent flicks such as Cruella , Mulan , and Jungle Cruise . While the previous on-screen adaptation of the ride, starring Eddie Murphy , only managed to score a PG rating, the latest iteration of the story is aiming to provide more than just a few laughs this summer, and fittingly so for a film featuring ghosts and phantoms alike.
Directed by Justin Simien , Haunted Mansion centers on a mother and son, played by Rosario Dawson and Chase W. Dillon , who move into an old mansion in New Orleans. However, their new home ends up becoming more than they bargained for when they soon discover it is inhabited by ghosts. With the help of a paranormal expert ( LaKeith Stanfield ), a psychic ( Tiffany Haddish ), a priest ( Owen Wilson ), and a historian ( Danny DeVito ), the ragtag group of characters must team up to face the haunting terror that awaits them. With an exciting premise bolstered by a now-confirmed PG-13 rating, audiences are likely in for a terrifying treat this summer.
RELATED: 15 Non-Disney Animated Movies That Could Have Live-Action or CGI Remakes
More Classic Disney Rides Are Soon Coming to the Big Screen
Following the success of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, it comes as no surprise that the company would try to tap into other adaptations of their classic theme park attractions. While several other attempts have seen mixed results, with examples including Tomorrowland and Jungle Cruise , Disney remains committed to spearheading more films in the future. Alongside the eventual release of their second attempt at Haunted Mansion this summer, a film adaptation of Tower of Terror , starring Scarlett Johansson , is also in the works alongside Big Thunder Mountain from Hawkeye directors Bert and Bertie . However, with no additional details revealed since their announcements, no word yet on when those films will be released. Be sure to stay tuned for further updates from Disney's upcoming releases.
Haunted Mansion scares its way into theaters on July 28. Check out the official trailer for the upcoming film below.
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Those who enter “Haunted Mansion” (Disney) in search of laughs will likely come away from it more satisfied than those who go in seeking eerie chills. As for the film’s appropriate audience, it’s a project best suited to grown-ups, though mature teens will probably be equipped to take it on as well.
Set in New Orleans, director Justin Simien’s adaptation of a theme park attraction features an ensemble cast led by LaKeith Stanfield as gruffly antisocial scientist Ben. Resolutely skeptical where the paranormal is concerned, Ben is unexpectedly invited to investigate the titular dwelling by a total stranger, sketchy clergyman Father Kent (Owen Wilson).
Father Kent is acting on behalf of the house’s new owner, single mom Gabbie (Rosario Dawson), who lives there with her socially awkward preteen son Travis (Chase W. Dillon). For the right price, Ben agrees to ease their worries by carrying out a perfunctory inspection, at the end of which he’ll reassure them that the place is ghost-free.
As others have found out before him, however, Ben discovers that, in fact, the structure is chockablock with scary sprites. Not only that, but one or another of this array of wraiths invariably follows any visitor to their habitation home and compels him or her to return to it.
With the initial quartet of characters thus confined to the old manse, the search for a solution to their imprisonment is led by Father Kent who teams with sassy medium Harriet (Tiffany Haddish) in what seems an unlikely partnership. Bruce (Danny DeVito), a history professor, is eventually added to the mix based on his knowledge of local lore regarding the macabre.
There’s a generally congenial tone to this production, the comic element of which is far more successful than its by-the-numbers horror ingredients. And any potential offense given by the portrayal of Father Kent is ultimately canceled out by an explanation of his true identity. Suffice it to say, it’s no wonder that his efforts at exorcism fall short.
Still, the positive aspects of this second big-screen version of the Disneyland ride (Rob Minkoff helmed the 2003 Eddie Murphy vehicle “The Haunted Mansion”) have to be balanced against its nonscriptural take on supernatural events. All the more so since this is central to one of the movie’s few serious moments – gamely, if unconvincingly, put over by Stanfield.
Older adolescents may be as apt to shrug this viewpoint off as their elders. But “Haunted Mansion” is not a good fit for smaller, more impressionable kids.
The film contains occult themes, about a dozen mild oaths and brief irreverent humor. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
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The plot deals with themes of death and grief
Understandably for a ghost story, much of the film is about death and grief. There is an emotional scene in which LaKeith Stanfield 's character Ben reveals that his wife Alyssa (Charity Jordan) died in a car crash. For most of the movie, Stanfield's character struggles in the aftermath of Alyssa's death, and he's shown drinking to cope with it.
Additionally, one Haunted Mansion twist hinges on 9-year-old Travis (Chase Dillon) missing his late father, one year after his death.
The themes can be heavy at times but land messages of continuing on with life after terrible tragedies.
Director Simien said Katie Dippold's screenplay — and how it handled these topics — made him want to make the film.
"It did so many things right that I thought were important for me to try and protect as a director. Things that I knew could maybe get scrubbed away if it was someone else doing it. [Dippold] really goes there in terms of grief and fear and also doesn't pull any punches in terms of laughs, either," he told Slash Film .
"I felt really protective of those elements and I was really turned on by it because, one, it's an ensemble comedy that's kind of shady and sarcastic and it Trojan-Horses this whole other story about grief and loss," added Simien, "and that's my bag."
There are frightening moments throughout
Haunted Mansion , of course, dabbles in light horror elements during its two-hour runtime. While the scary moments can be startling and loud, most are not for sustained for long periods of time. Plus, comedic relief almost always follows these moments, quickly diffusing the scariness.
That being said, there are spooky, skeletal ghost effects, some brief and implied violence with weapons, and general haunted-house suspense: screaming spirits, dark hallways, graveyard imagery, etc. For comparison, think of movies like Coraline , ParaNorman and Hocus Pocus .
Simien told MovieWeb about how he balanced the comedy and horror elements while directing.
"That's how the ride was made, it was a back and forth. They could not decide if this ride should be funny or scary, or for children or for adults. These are the actual conversations that Walt Disney and the Imagineers had making the ride," he said. "They somehow landed on this weird, magical formula."
"It has this wonderful mix of humor and tragedy. It doesn't pull punches," added Simien. "You see a man hanging from the stretching room the moment it starts. You're literally moving through a graveyard. This is a scary, weird ride. It was one that I rode at 9 years old. It made me feel like I could handle scary stuff. It didn't take me out of the fight."
He said capturing his childhood experience of the Haunted Mansion theme park ride "was really important" to him.
"It became something that I could ride over and over again. I grew up, still really enjoying it, and feel like it spoke to me. That was the guiding star," he explained. "My brain just kind of functions that way. It's a tragic comedy at all times in here. It felt very natural to me."
There are children in peril
While the adult cast is subjected to most of the scary instances, the only child character, 9-year-old Travis (played by Chase Dillon) is alone and in peril a few times, though no harm comes to him before the ultimately happy ending.
Also, the film's finale see Travis being lured to his death by the evil Hatbox ghost before the adults eventually save him.
Director Simien pointed out to Slash Film that many Disney films feature scary moments, which helped him overcome fear as a kid.
"I watched Snow White and Pinocchio , these movies are terrifying," he said with a laugh. "They are blends of horror and comedy and sweetness and dark and light. As a kid, they make you feel like you can face the darkness of the world. And as a Black gay kid whose dad died, my world growing up was kind of scary. And these movies made me feel like I could get through it."
He added that his Haunted Mansion was mostly "me making the movie I wanted to see," but there were the "usual conversations between the studio" and audience "testing" to find the final tone.
Haunted Mansion opens in theaters Friday.
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Is haunted mansion suitable for children.
Disney's Haunted Mansion remake includes quite a few ghosts. But is suitable for children to watch? We break down the rating and the scares.
- Haunted Mansion is a family-friendly film with some horror elements, but it may not be suitable for children under six due to its twisted antagonist and heavy themes of grief.
- The film includes spooky fun scares and jump scares, but it is not at the full horror level and is never too eerie.
- The Hatbox Ghost provides the majority of the frightening sequences, while other ghosts have theatrical scare tactics. Despite being scarier than the 2003 film, Haunted Mansion is still suitable for slightly older children and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Haunted Mansion is a dramedy that includes some horror elements, but is it suitable for younger audiences? Directed by Justin Simien from a screenplay by Katie Dippold, Haunted Mansion is the second adaptation of Disney’s theme park ride, and a remake of 2003’s The Haunted Mansion starring Eddie Murphy. The film, as it is obvious by the title, has an array of ghosts throughout, many of whom interact with the cast of memorable characters.
Haunted Mansion may have some similarities to the 2003 version, but Simien and Dippold go in another direction when it comes to the storyline and the characters at its center. Mirroring the theme park ride itself, Haunted Mansion includes Madame Leota’s séance room, haunted paintings, and chairs that move throughout the residence. The film — which stars LaKeith Stanfield , Tiffany Haddish, and Owen Wilson as a priest among others — is certainly aiming to be fun for the whole family, but how do the horror elements hold up for those wanting to take kids to see it, especially with its PG-13 rating?
Why Haunted Mansion Is Rated PG-13
Haunted Mansion is rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and scary action. The thematic elements likely apply to the overarching theme of grief, which is explored throughout the film from the perspectives of various characters. The film doesn’t languish in the elements of grief, however, as it’s also quite silly. The scary action part of the Motion Picture Association’s rating pertains to the scenes where the characters have to fight the ghosts, or the ghosts pop up from behind the characters. To that end, Haunted Mansion is a bit scarier than the 2003 iteration, and deals with thematic elements that may be more difficult to grasp for younger audience members.
The film originally had Guillermo del Toro attached to write and direct, and the famed filmmaker submitted a draft of the script fully intending it to be PG-13. But by 2013, del Toro had exited the project and the reins were handed to Dear White People and Hair director Justin Simien. Dippold’s script ultimately replaced del Toro’s because his was deemed too scary for the film’s intended audience, which was always meant to be family-friendly like its predecessor and the theme park attraction. Still, Haunted Mansion contains enough scares and themes for a PG-13 rating, even if the envelope isn’t pushed as far as del Toro’s script might have been.
How Scary Haunted Mansion 2023 Is
Haunted Mansion is not at the full horror level in terms of its scares. There are a couple of jump scares, but they’re relatively quick, and the film itself is never too eerie. The ghosts themselves cause some mayhem throughout the mansion, but it’s more of the spooky fun sort of entertainment. They show up to startle the characters, or veer them in the right direction, but there are also genuinely haunting, chilling moments where the ghosts are concerned. Most of the film’s unsettling moments come from the inclusion of the Hatbox Ghost, who is visually frightening, as well as a few other creepy spirits haunting the mansion.
The Hatbox Ghost, with his sinister presence, is the character who provides the film with the majority of its frightening sequences. He’s imposing, and he aims to be as terrifying as possible. And while not all the ghosts have fearsome intentions, the ones that do have a few theatrics up their sleeve to scare audiences and characters alike. Still, Haunted Mansion is not a straight-up horror in the vein of recent offerings like M3GAN or the upcoming horror Talk to Me ; it shouldn’t deter younger audiences from watching it despite it being scarier than the 2003 film, which was given a PG rating for frightening images, thematic elements, and language.
Haunted Mansion Is Not Suitable For All Kids
Though Haunted Mansion is, at its heart, a family film that can be watched by the majority of film audiences, there are elements of the film that may not be suitable for kids of all ages. Children who are younger than six years old may want to steer clear of the film, especially since the intentions of Haunted Mansion’s antagonist are fairly twisted. The film is focused on grief, which affects the characters in a myriad of ways, and is closely connected to the plot.
There are certain aspects of this theme that are heavy and filled with despair. It’s not grief’s inclusion that’s inherently scary, but more so how it’s used within the story. Paired with the scary action sequences, which are few and far between, Haunted Mansion is certainly more suitable for slightly older children, who will likely enjoy their time and be as entertained as their adult counterparts. Despite the overall rating and elements that could scare the very youngest of children, the film is still something the whole family can enjoy.