October 30, a time of last minute Halloween preparations, stockpiled goodies, overworked accountants and the setting for this very quirky and cool animated movie.

As 12-year-old DJ (Musso) enters the world of adolescence he finds that he's still as scared of some things as ever - chief among them his belligerent neighbour Nebbercracker (Buscemi), a man who roars at all the local kids and confiscates any toys that stray onto his lawn.

But DJ isn't without guts, either, and, egged on by portly pal Chowder (Lerner), he tries to retrieve a basketball from Nebbercracker's garden, leading to the old hermit having a turn and ending up in hospital. With Nebbercracker out of the way, the duo and friend Jenny (Locke) decide to explore his domain - and are about to find out there's a lot more to his story than meets the eye.

Here's a conundrum: an animated movie that is pitched at kids but is far more suitable for teenagers and adults. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and 'Polar Express' director Robert Zemeckis, 'Monster House' is as far from sweet-and-cuddly as you can get. The motion capture animation and autumnal lighting look eerie; the scares work better than a lot of horrors and there are enough wisecracks to keep even the most jaded seen-it-all punter chuckling.

Between the loud shrieks and ghouls, this is too frightening for the very young and looks likely to end up as a cult movie that will only ever get shown on TV after 9pm. For rookie director Gil Kenan it's a fine debut and you'd like to the think he'll turn his attention to making some grown-up shockers in the future.

Harry Guerin