Australian Council on Children and the Media

Haunted Mansion

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Short takes

Not recommended under 13, PG to 15 (Lang. Sex. Themes.)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Haunted Mansion
  • a review of Haunted Mansion completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 March 2004.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to the level of scariness, this movie is not recommended for children under 8.
Children aged 8-15 Children aged 8 - 15 will need parental guidance to view this movie. Even older children in this age group who know this is a fantasy, could still be disturbed, particularly by the hanging scene and the supernatural occurrences.
Children over the age of 15 Children over 15 should be okay to see this movie with or without parental guidance depending on parentsu2019 interpretation of the contents.

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: Haunted Mansion
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Some scenes may scare small children
Length 88 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Jim and Sara Evers of Evers and Evers Real Estate plan a weekend away with their two children, Megan and Michael, to escape the pressures of work that continually pull Jim away from his family. However, on the way he agrees to overlook a mansion that’s for sale promising it will only take twenty minutes.

When they arrive at the mansion, it is obvious it hasn’t been lived in for a long time—everything in the garden is dead and the house is dark, covered in cobwebs and spooky looking. Unbeknown to the Evers, many years previously, a tragedy unfolded that still haunts the house. The heir of the house, Master Edward Gracey, was in love with a young black woman called Elizabeth, who apparently committed suicide by poisoning herself. On discovering this sad news Edward goes and hangs himself. Elizabeth’s spirit now haunts the house and Edward’s spirit wanders the halls waiting for her to return.

On their arrival at the house, the Evers are greeted by the sombre butler, Ramsley, while a fierce thunder and lightening storm descends on the house. Ramsley takes the Evers to meet his Master, Edward Gracey, who apparently sees in Sara the reincarnation of Elizabeth. The bad storm floods the roads forcing the Evers to spend an uncomfortable night in the mansion. During the night the children are disturbed by a small cloud of light which Megan, the more adventurous of the two, decides to follow taking Michael with her. Jim in the meantime is summoned to Master Gracey and while waiting finds a secret passage which he decides to follow. This leads him to a room where he finds a crystal ball holding the face of Madame Leota, a gypsy, who tells him that the house holds the devil’s curse and in order for it to be lifted the truth must be known. She instructs him to find a key which is located in the mausoleum, a building separate from the mansion. Jim meets up with Megan and Michael and the three of them continue their spooky adventure trying to locate the key and uncover the truth.

The threesome takes a ride in a ghostly coach and encounters many strange ghostly apparitions and terrifying happenings. Meanwhile with the three of them out of the way Master Gracey starts his courtship of Sara who is caught up in the bizarre happenings of his earlier life. Sara’s life is in danger and only Jim and the children’s ability to uncover the truth may save her.

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 the following:

  • Jim is knocked out by a flying drum
  • A skeleton chases Jim and Jim knocks his head off with a torch
  • Skeletons attack Megan with their long bony hands
  • The door closes on a skeleton, chopping its hand off
  • Jim tries to punch Ramsley
  • Ramsley locks the children in a trunk
  • Ramsley lifts Jim by the throat and throws him out of the window
  • Armed soldiers attack Jim as he tries to free the children and nearly gets his head chopped off

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.

Most of this movie would scare children in this age group. It is full of supernatural and ghostly images. The following is a sample of scary scenes:

  • The start of the movie shows the masked ball from long ago; the music is eerie and there are floating objects. Elizabeth falls down dead after drinking from a cup.
  • Edward hangs himself with a rope.
  • When the Evers family arrives at the mansion, scary music plays, the gates open by themselves. The front door opens by itself and lightning illuminates Ramsley, the butler, who looks scary with expressionless eyes and white hair.
  • Ramsley has the habit of appearing suddenly and startling everyone.
  • Jim sees a reflection of himself in a mirror which is gruesome.
  • Madame Leota is scary looking, with green eyes.
  • Madame Leota and Jim are lifted up to the ceiling and spun around the room. Jim screams hysterically.
  • A flashback of Edward hanging is shown.
  • Ghosts are everywhere in the mansion and outside; they are trapped there for eternity.
  • The scene in the mausoleum is particularly scary; the skeletons are terrifying to look at and try to catch Megan and Jim.
  • Jim drops the key through a crack into the water. Megan swims under the water to retrieve it and bumps into a skeleton.
  • The coffins all open and skeletons come out of them.
  • The door to the mausoleum is covered in spiders; Michael has to overcome his fear of spiders to open the door.
  • The children are in a trunk suspended by a chain.
  • Ramsley damns everyone to hell; his eyes go white and he looks really evil; spirits start floating around the room. A fire dragon comes out of the fireplace surrounding Ramsley and pulls him into the fiery furnace.
  • Sara collapses from drinking poison and appears dead.
  • A spirit comes down from heaven and lifts Sara upwards. She’s suspended there while Elizabeth enters her body and speaks through her.

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 in this age group may also be scared or disturbed by the scenes described above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group could still be scared by the contents of this movie, particularly the following:

  • Edward hanging himself.
  • Madame Leota and Jim lifted up to the ceiling and spun around the room. Jim screaming hysterically.
  • The skeletons chasing Megan and Jim.
  • Megan and Michael shut in the trunk and suspended.
  • Ramsley damning everyone to hell, looking really evil.
  • Sara apparently dying, being lifted up and Elizabeth speaking through her.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Most of the children in this age group would know this is fantasy however they could still be disturbed particularly by the hanging scene and the supernatural occurrences.

Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

None of concern.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

There is some drinking of alcohol and smoking of cigars.

Coarse language

There is a little coarse language, including occasional use of “oh my God” and crap.

In a nutshell

The take home message is that good triumphs over evil.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • overcoming fears
  • courage

Values parents may wish to discourage include:

  • trickery and deceit
  • the thought that ghosts wander the earth waiting to be set free

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