[REVIEW | MOVIES] Monster High: Haunted

haunted

Title: Monster High: Haunted
Rated: Not Rated
Distrubited By: Universal
Version: Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital HD Combo Pack
UPC: 025192246364

When I first got into Monster High and was checking out the aspects of the franchise I could actually get my hands on at that moment, I watched the webisodes. Once I was caught up with them, I quickly rented the movies off of iTunes. I was initially disappointed that everything after Fright On! was done in a cheap 3D style that looked better suited for a PS1.5, but I quickly got over it and came to actually LOVE the style. It’s now weird to watch Monster High without it.

The movies, in general, kind of remind me of a cross between Barbie movies and Disney movies. They can be cheesy, but generally tell a really good story (even if they end up with plot holes or unfinished storylines) and end with a really good lesson! This one was most certainly no exception.

In this movie, Draculaura is being haunted. When Spectra learns of this, she freaks since hauntings are “against the rules” of the ghost world. She goes to the ghost world to find out who’s haunting Draculaura, only to have a few of the ghouls follow her there. When she arrives, she rather quickly gets swept up into trying to solve the much larger mystery of the school — what the principal of Haunted High is up to with ridiculous amount of detention chains.

When I first found out about this movie, I was really excited. I believe I saw it in a pamphlet in the Freaky Fusion case. I couldn’t WAIT for another Monster High movie! I enjoyed all the ones I’ve seen so far and I couldn’t wait to see another one!

The dolls were the second time I was pretty excited about this movie. I was SUPER excited about the ghost pirate…AND THE JAPANESE MONSTER-BASED GHOST. I mean, okay, I loved the other designs in the collection too, but A JAPANESE MONSTER. A YOKAI. OH MY GOSH. I have been WAITING for them to do one! Japan has so many interesting monsters, so I’m glad they finally did one!

So, a combination of all these lovely things totally had me excited.

Even though I was excited, I didn’t really know what to expect from the movie. A lot of people were saying it was going to be a Spectra movie, which I could understand. However, the previews kept focusing on Draculaura being haunted, which made me wonder: is Draculaura going to be a main character too?

Well, while she IS the character who helps drive the plot initially, she kind of falls into the background with the other ghouls for most of the adventure. I think that’s alright and I think it’s super cool that a non-main six character (Spectra) got to be in the primary role. I don’t think Draculaura would have been able to do much more in a movie about ghosts anyway than she already did.

I think the casting choice was definitely an interesting one and a really good switch up of the main cast. I loved that Twyla was more present in this one. I liked that Rochelle joined in on the adventure. I liked that Clawdeen and Draculaura were the “main 6” ghouls to join on the adventure and I don’t think any of the others would’ve fit so well. I love that Sirena from Freaky Fusion joined in.

Monster High seems to let movie characters, other than minor characters (like the Tiki), fade into the background. I was surprised not only to see the entire cast of Freaky Fusion show up in the background, but that one of the characters introduced actually joined in on the adventure. I don’t feel like such a thing happens too often (Robecca and Rochelle I think were the last ones), especially so close to the previous movie’s release (Freaky Fusion was released in Fall 2014).

Sirena, Twyla, and the newest cast member, Porter were definitely the funniest characters within the movie. Sirena is so oblivious to the point I just want to cover my face and laugh super hard. She has significantly more lines than in Freaky Fusion, so it’s nice to see more of her (forever reminding me I need her in my collection). Twyla was hilarious with this really dry, funny-but-not-funny sense of humor. I find it pretty unexpected of her, since that’s not usually the kind of role she plays. However, it was refreshing to see her out of the literal shadow and more under the spotlight. Porter was hilarious with his “nice bad boy” attitude and pretty much being a pest to Spectra.

See?

That’s not to say that the other cast members weren’t great too! River Styxx is absolutely adorable and I love her character. Vandala is great and I love her pirateness. Kiyomi is super nice and isn’t as shy as I expected! I wish the movie just had more of all them, as I feel like it didn’t have an opportunity to show them all. I’m hoping they all show up in the web series for more development (fingers crossed that Kiyomi helps Draculaura with Japanese, since Draculaura is now in Shibooya, Japan and that would make total sense to me).

I want all the Haunted dolls now, harharhar. So, I guess advertising the line totally works when you do something like this.

I like all the character, but I do like the movie?

It’s…alright.

Maybe I just need to let it sit in my memory for a little while and maybe my allergies need to go away before I view it again. For now though, I think it’s alright. After watching both Frights, Camera, Action and Freaky Fusion a couple times, both with stories that make me shed at least one tear, this one didn’t really do that. I mean, okay, there’s not really any part of the movie that would yank at my emotions like that, but…it just lacked that kind of “umph”.

Actually, as weird as this sounds, I actually think the writing in this movie is rather sound. From my first two viewings, I couldn’t find the usual plot holes anywhere. There was no wondering where something that was mentioned earlier in the movie went, as it was taken care of unlike some of the previous movies. The progression of the plot moves rather well, even if it’s a bit fast at times. Once the movie hits the midway point and the initial plot device of Draculaura’s haunting has been solved, the movie gets significantly more exciting. I didn’t even find the movie overly cheesy at some parts, unlike the previous movies that often got dangerously close to being eye-roll worthy! Overall, the writing in this movie is solid.

However, just because the writing is solid doesn’t mean I love the movie. I can’t really pinpoint what I didn’t like about it — I just didn’t find it interesting. Maybe it’s because Spectra was such a big role and she’s not really in my “top ghouls” list (I like her, but she’s not one of my favourites) or that some of the other characters I was hoping to be more prominent fell into the background. Whatever it is, it made the movie not as great as the previous ones.

I do feel like the animation improved in this film. The 3D models don’t look as cheap to me in this one as they do in the previous ones. It’s nice to see everybody look so great!

One of the things that bothered me throughout the movie was that the main ghouls all had these really bright glowing outlines to them, while the rest of the ghosts had the same whitish-blue glow to them. It made the main characters stand out in comparison. I kind of wish the animators/special effects people would have randomized the colours on the rest of the ghosts, as it looks really odd to me. I mean…don’t you think that the ghouls wouldn’t want to stand out…so much? And why does Spectra, Porter, Vandala, River, and Kiyomi all have special auras, while their fellow classmates don’t? That just seems silly to me. If it was just the solid ghouls who had auras when they were ghosts, I guess I could brush it off, but the fact that the main ghosts had them too just irks me.

Another positive thing about this movie was the voice acting. Every character was voiced flawlessly and fluidly, which made it fun for me to watch. I think my favourite voice of the new characters is DEFINITELY River Styxx. Her voice just sounds so authentically young (is it authentic or is her voice actress just really talented)! Everyone else had great voices too, but none came close to River Styxx for me.

The music in this movie stood out a lot, in a good way. Each piece worked well for each scene it was placed in and enhanced it. It would be nice if they could release a full soundtrack for it; I’d buy it! I actually think the worst track was the ending, “Party Like a Monster”, which isn’t even a bad song. I just think that the instrumental music outshined it by a mile.

As whole, the movie was alright. The writing is solid, the characters are lovable, the voice acting is nice, and the music is great. However, there’s just something lacking about the film and I just can’t figure it out. I may just have to rewatch it again for a third time once I feel better.

If you’re a Monster High fan, definitely check it out though! Same if you’re a Spectra fan! However, if you’re not either of those, you can probably skip over it; the other Monster High movies are better, although they have weaker writing in some areas.

So, let’s go party like a monster, you ghouls! What are you waiting for?

…Boo York, Boo York? I’m waiting for that too.

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