Cassie is a thirteen year old goth girl attending her new school where a preppy and rich snot named Priscilla goes out of her way to make Cassie's first days a misery. Meanwhile at home, Cassie has to try and convince her parents to accept her Gothic lifestyle, and also enjoys scaring the head off her little brother, Max.
One day while going to the local library, clad in the stereotypical goth black cloak and carrying an armload of horror novels, Cassie comes across a secluded Halloween store and her curiosity gets the better of her. She meets a creepy old salesman who sells her a book called 'The Evil Thing', and she also gets her revenge on Priscilla at the school dance by filling Priscilla's pinata full of cockroaches. Everybody begins calling Priscilla the Cockroach Queen, so Priscilla dares Cassie's crush, Sean, to read her diary.
While babysitting Max on Halloween night, Max accidentally deletes Cassie's homework (kids, write by hand, you'll save more time), and to scare him she reads him 'The Evil Thing'. Sean apologizes for Priscilla's jerky behavior but it isn't long before the Evil Thing monster comes to life... can Cassie and Sean rescue Max, Priscilla and the local pizza dude from becoming food for a monster's newborn babies? For kids this certainly isn't a bad movie. It's a horror movie but no one dies aside from the monster, there is very little, if any, gore and it isn't very scary. Of course, this probably varies by the audience. The soundtrack is excellent and the acting was okay, and it has the name of the kids' horror author R. L. Stine attached to it, the creator (or at least inspiration) for Goosebumps, the Nightmare Room, Fear Street, and recently a Haunting Hour TV series.
The pros? Original plot, great and catchy (yet sadly unreleased) soundtrack, no swearing or sex jokes, creative characters.
The cons? Well...
Alright, there's the matter of Cassie herself, her character is highly unrealistic. Not only did they hire a well-known actress/singer to play her role, but they try to pass her off as a thirteen-year-old. Cassie, Sean and Priscilla all look to be high schoolers, not to mention the school itself has a high school appearance. You can't tell me that these characters are thirteen, they don't look the part. The scenes at the school are like something out of a Lifetime anti-bullying film, and Cassie is too stereotypical, as if all goths do is act depressed, hate their parents, throw on a pair of headphones to listen to alternative rock, borrow horror novels and constantly think of death and creepy things. And if you think I don't know what I'm talking about, I only graduated high school a year ago so I definitely know what real kids act like, it most certainly isn't this. The acting was okay but they hired well-known actors/actresses, giving the film an unrealistic feel. Priscilla's snob personality was way too overdone, as was Cassie's goth personality, to the point where both characters seemed incredibly fake.
That being said, The Haunting Hour isn't a bad kids' film, although I liked R. L. Stine's two-part TV movie Goosebumps: Welcome to Dead House (1997) much better. If this movie was ever remade, I think they should tone down the Wednesday Addams act from the role of Cassie. Either way, check it out, it's not too bad and for kids who like horror but you're afraid Stephen King or George Romero might be too much for them to handle, this is a great compromise.