Australian Council on Children and the Media

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

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Not recommended under 8, parental guidance recommended 8 to 12 (Scary scenes, supernatural themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
  • a review of Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 23 October 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to scary scenes and supernatural themes
Children aged 8 to 12 parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes and supernatural themes
Children 13 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild supernatural themes
Length 90 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This is the second Goosebumps movie and is based upon the horror-fiction novel of the same name by author R.L. Stine. Sarah Quinn (Madison Iseman) is a high school senior living with her little brother Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and her mother Kathy (Wendi McLendon-Covey) in the small town of Wardenclyffe, New York. Sarah is struggling to write an admissions essay for Columbia University in which she must discuss the true nature of fear. It is the lead up to Halloween and everyone is decorating their houses with ghosts and ghouls and carved pumpkins, especially their neighbour Mr. Chu (Ken Jeong) who is a true Halloween enthusiast and has really gone all out!

Sonny’s best friend from school, Sam (Caleel Harris) is coming to stay with the Quinn family over Halloween and he has a grand plan for a new business – The Junk Brothers – a garbage pick-up service. After he puts up some flyers, his first customer calls and asks the two boys whether they can clear out an abandoned house. Sonny and Sam ride their bikes out to the abandoned house, which has a spooky atmosphere and makes the boys a bit nervous. In the house, they discover a secret room with a locked trunk. Inside the trunk there is an old manuscript and an antique ventriloquist dummy called ‘Slappy’ (voice of Mick Wingert) with a little note in its jacket pocket – some magic words. Sonny reads the spell aloud and the dummy suddenly comes to life.

At first the dummy seems to have good intentions, helping the boys with their homework and talking about being a part of their family, but after some evil things start to happen, they realise that Slappy is not a nice dummy. When Slappy is rejected by the boys, who try to throw him in the river, he decides to create his own family by bringing all the Halloween decorations to life and wreaking terror on the small town.

Sonny, Sarah and Sam now discover that Slappy is a character in an unfinished manuscript by Goosebumps author R.L Stine. They try to contact Stine in the hope that he can write a good ending for the book and help save the town from Slappy’s evil plans. When Stine gets the message he heads straight to Wardenclyffe to help the children. Together they must get Halloween under control!

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Supernatural beings; Halloween; friendship; bullying; family

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Sam is attacked by gummi bears and he must punch and fight them hard in self-defence.
  • A bully says in a threatening way: “Unless you want your face punched..?”
  • The dummy causes someone to fall off a ladder.
  • The dummy causes a bully’s trousers to come down, exposing his underwear and humiliating him. This happens two or three times.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are many scenes where there is tension and a sense of horror, however many of these are alleviated quickly and with comedy. Some children will cope with this, and some may find it too scary.
  • Slappy, the evil ventriloquist dummy, is a menacing and scary character whose image may stick in the imaginations of some children for longer than the duration of the film.
  • When Sam and Sonny approach the abandoned house, there is spooky music and a scary atmosphere.
  • When Slappy uses a magic spell to bring all the Halloween decorations to life, they start to transform (in a very realistic way) into monsters. There are witches with glowing eyes, a hump backed ogre, flying ghosts and ghouls, a gigantic spider, etc.
  • The gummi bears come to life and attack Sam with sharp teeth.
  • Slappy captures Sam and Sarah’s mother and has her tied to a chair.
  • Slappy transforms the mother into a scary ventriloquist puppet. This may also linger in the imaginations of some children.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children of this age may also find the above-mentioned scenes scary

Sexual references

There are some mild romantic references in this movie, including:

  • Sarah has a boyfriend who climbs into her bedroom window and they kiss.
  • Sarah sees her boyfriend kissing another girl at a nightclub.
  • There is some flirtation between the store manager Walter and Kathy (Sarah and Sonny’s mum). They arrange a date.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity:

  • A character is seen is his underwear when his pants come down

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “dummy”; “shut up”; “son of a…”

In a nutshell

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween is a funny horror flick for tweens and teens that achieves the balance between genuinely scary moments and comic relief. For younger children who are particularly sensitive, some of the imagery and characters may be a little too scary, so parents should consider this before viewing. It is not recommended for under eights and parental guidance is recommended for the 8 to 12 year old group. Otherwise, the film could be a great introduction to the horror genre, with plenty of thrills.

The main messages from this movie are that you can face your fears and that team work is important.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children:

  • that they should tell their parents when something doesn’t feel right or is scaring them.
  • what they should do when someone tells them to keep a secret, but they don’t trust them.

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