31 Days of Horror: R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour brings family fun frights

The 2007 horror film The Haunting Hour: Don’t Think About It is an adaptation of a series of short stories written by R.L. Stine, best known for his work in writing child-young adult horror literature such as Goosebumps, Fear Street and of course The Haunting Hour. The film follows Cassie, a 13 year old goth girl struggling to fit into her new school when she comes across a mysterious book in an even more mysterious store. The book warns her to not read it aloud, however she finds herself ignoring the advice and unleashing a terrifying monster known only as The Evil Thing.

The film was made in 2007, and after a straight to video release was broadcast on Cartoon Network. While the film is aimed at kids and young adults and feels really on brand for R.L. Stine’s body of work, there are still plenty of genuinely tense and unnerving scenes throughout the film, making this a perfect gateway film for children to get into the horror genre. The film works as a genuinely creepy horror story and holds back surprisingly little punches despite its target audience. There are brief moments that haven’t aged well, especially with an unfortune piece of dialogue regarding a grossly outdated term.

The film stars Emily Osment of Hannah Montana fame, as well as Cody Linley, Brittany Curran, Alex Winzenread and Tobin Bell. Yes, Tobin Bell from the infamous SAW franchise has a surprisingly fun appearance in this (and Bell of course kills it in every scene he’s in). While the acting is on par of what you can expect from what a straight to video kids horror film of the early 2000s, Osment still brings a life to the character and is a routable protagonist. Linley plays Sean, the love interest of the film while Curran plays Priscilla, the stereotypical mean girl and antagonist to Cassie. One of the surprising standout performances is that of Winzenread who plays Cassies cowardly younger brother Max, whose character really has the biggest emotional range in the film.

 

The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It

Cody Linley, Brittany Curran and Emily Osment (Photo by John Sciulli/WireImage for John Varvatos)

 

The film utilizes practical effects to bring the evil thing to life. While the monster lacks any standout characteristics besides the two heads and really only amounts to the snarling and growling stereotypical horror movie beast, the brief times it is on screen it does its job well enough. The practical effects none the less are dope to see in action.

While the look of the evil thing in question is really nothing to write home about, the build up and lore of the beast I actually found really compelling. The book Cassie reads from says that the evil thing isn’t real as long as you don’t think about it (hence the title). The idea of a monster that only manifests when you think about it, which happens so easily as Cassie is literally reading about it, is a really neat concept.

One really funny aspect of the film, is the overt product placement. The film (for whatever reason) I suppose had a deal with Papa Johns Pizza, and it doesn’t let you forget about it. The logo is in full frame so many times you can practically make a drinking game out of it (could be a fun idea for Halloween parties). The film even goes as far as to make a Papa Johns delivery a side character throughout the story. Nothing about damns the movie in any way, just a fun observation that once you hear about it you can’t unsee it. I actually might have the Papa Johns coupon that came with my DVD back in the day (which is now surely expired).

Overall, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour: Don’t Think About It is a fun time and a real throwback for Gen Z and such horror fans. It was fun taking a trip back to early 2000s childrens horror and felt really on par for R.L. Stine’s body of work, hell its probably one of my favorite feature film adaptations of R.L. Stines work. Still though, it does suffer from its limitations as a straight to video PG horror flick. It works especially well though for allowing younger viewers to dip their toe into the pool of horror, or if you’re looking for some fun 2000s nostalgia.

Have you seen The Haunting Hour: Don’t Think About It? If you can find a copy of it, I’d recommend it, especially if you wanna try and get younger folks into horror. If you enjoyed reading this review, check out some of my other articles and feel free to follow me on my social medias such as Twitter (JacobAtTheMovie), Instagram (JacobTheHarper), Facebook (JacobTheHarper) and Letterboxd (JacobTheHarper)