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Haunter – 6

Director – Vincenzo Natali

Cast – Abigail Breslin, Stephen McHattie, Peter Outerbridge, David Hewlett, Michelle Nolden, Samantha Weinstein, Sarah Manninen, Eleanor Zichy, Peter DaCunha, David Knoll

Release Year – 2013

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I was very excited to see Haunter because it comes from a director whose work I have enjoyed, Vincenzo Natali. I was first exposed to Natali’s work when I saw Cube, one of my favorite films, and based on this I was excited to see his take on the supernatural with Haunter. He found success in the medical/sci-fi horror sub-genre with Splice, but could he once again deliver a solid entry in a new sub-genre? For the most part, yes, but Haunter is a film I really wanted to enjoy more and is probably my least favorite of his horror films.

On the day before her 16th birthday in 1986 Lisa and her family were killed in their home under sinister circumstances. Because they are unable to move on they have been repeating this same fateful day for years. So far, only Lisa has “woken up” and realized what is going on, but this never-ending afterlife will soon become a nightmare when she tries to aid a being from another realm and her killer returns to put a stop to it.

I have seen a lot of haunted house films, but I can say that I have never seen one like this. Usually, we see a living person haunted by the dead, but in this case we are provided a dead person who is being haunted by the living. We soon learn the reason behind this “haunting”, and that pretty much brings us to a crossroads. It seems you are either going to enjoy the source of the horror or you will find it a bit cheap, and I leaned towards the latter. When this revelation is revealed it lessened the experience for me because the film was no longer scary in my eyes. Some may beg to differ, and I hope that you do find this scary, but for me it just did not work. When the main antagonist gets involved it does little to improve on the story and in my opinion makes it quite cliché in his execution and mannerisms. What makes this story unique though is everything else BUT the tangible horror. Seeing Lisa’s world turned upside down after living the same day over and over again was an interesting story element I had yet to see. There are reasons behind why she does not just leave the home, and as the film progresses more and more revelations come forth. To be honest this story felt like one aimed at teenagers. Despite its pseudo complexities it felt dumb and aimed at a crowd that wants something “different” but with the appeal of a teen horror flick…and not the good kind.

Vincenzo Natali’s direction is pretty good overall, and he does an especially good job of deliver good atmosphere and chilling sets. From the get-go you have a strong sense of dread prevailing over Abigail, and as the film’s initial scares hit the screen you get this feeling like you are about to witness the first great haunted house flick of 2014 (after a limited release in 2013). Sadly, after these initial scares the story takes over and the positive horror takes a backseat to the “teen” horror I mentioned earlier. From then on out I never found myself scared or nervous and was left with disappointment regarding the horror. We do get some very solid performances from Abigail Breslin and the film’s antagonist actor Stephen McHattie, who provided most of the film’s tension with his haunting demeanor and Lance Henriksen-esque appeal. I’d like to say that Natali did another great job delivering horror to his fans, but the story really held him back this time.

Overall, Haunter is a flick I expected much more from due to it being a Vincenzo Natali film. The bulk of the flick’s problems lie in its story, which starts off well but then gets silly as the runtime increases. This flick does offer some interesting ideas that I have yet to see used in the genre, but with poor writing execution and Natali unable to redeem the experience from these faults this is a flick that could have been much better.

Rating: 6/10

…Additional Stills…

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