Continuing an enduring tradition of Halloween-themed TV movies, tonight Disney Channel premieres Girl vs. Monster, which chronicles the adventures of a girl named Skylar (Olivia Holt from Disney XD’s Kickin’ It) who learns that her parents are monster hunters.
The film has a veteran Disney Channel producer in its ranks: Sheri Singer, who has produced 15 TV movies for the cable network, including all four Halloweentown movies.
Singer notes that Girl vs. Monster shares a lot of traits with Halloweentown – much like Marnie, who discovers that she’s a witch in the 1998 movie, Skylar has a whole new world opened up to her when she takes on monster-hunting herself. And like pretty much all movies on the network, there’s a Disney lesson to be learned by the time the credits roll – in this case, it’s own up to your fears, know it’s okay to be afraid, and face your fears.
But Girl vs. Monster also has a few stamps of a new era. Most prominent of all is its incorporation of music. Skylar, along with best friend/crush Ryan (Luke Benward), are aspiring musicians. There are five original songs in the movie.
“We have music, dance, special effects and a lot of action/adventure,” Singer told EW. “It’s much bigger than Halloweentown. It’s more expensive and it was a very ambitious endeavor.”
With a new Disney Channel Halloween movie comes the question always tagged to these projects: Where’s the line between kid-friendly spooky and too scary? Singer says making that call is second nature after having worked on so many Disney Channel movies – and having four kids of her own helps too. But she still holds test screenings to find the scary-but-not-too-scary sweet spot.
Singer found that settling on something that’s almost too spooky for younger viewers is the way to go to meet Disney’s demands that the show appeal to viewers age six and up.
“I have learned that the younger kids will watch what older kids watch, even if they’re putting their hands slightly over their face and watching out of the corner of their eye,” Singer explained. “They’ll watch some scary things, but older kids won’t watch [content geared toward] younger kids.”
In Girl vs. Monster, audiences can expect to see intense action scenes, dealings with a creepy villain and a couple scenes where monsters possess Skylar’s friends, members of a ragtag group of budding monster-hunters.
“It’s a great romp and a great adventure, and it’s somewhat scary,” Singer said, “but in the end they all learn something.”
Girl vs. Monster airs on Disney Channel Friday, Oct. 12 at 8/7c.