One from the to watch pile…
Film: On occasion, I’ll pick up a scary movie based on just name in the credits. Honestly, it rarely is a good choice, and I have been burnt by several latter-day Argento flicks, for example. I’ll pretty much well grab anything with any of the 80s Scream Queens in it and, well, rarely are they anything but a little titilation.
This movie was picked up due to the presence of a single Australian actress amongst a bunch of American ones who I either had never heard of, or I had only seen in bit parts of other films.
In this case the actress is Jackie Weaver.
Haunt is written by Andrew Barrer, who is current working on Ant-man and the Wasp for Marvel (though I imagine more will eventually be credited) and directed by Mac Carter, who wrote and directed one of my favourite documentaries about comics, Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics.
Haunt tells of a reserved young man, Evan Asher (Harrison Gilbertson) who has moved into a strange old house with his family. Whilst on a walk in the woods, Evan meets a neighbour, a girl of about his own age Samantha (Liana Liberato) who appears to be somewhat of a loner herself, and the two of them start exploring the house.
Now this strange old house has a secret: the family that lived there, the Morellos, are all deceased except for the mother, Janet Morello (Jacki Weaver) and it looks like our two potential new young lovers have accidentally opened a door to the spirit world by activating a ‘spirit radio’ they found in a hidden room, which can be tuned into the dead.
Will they survive though, when the dead start transmitting back?
I think I can see what they were hoping to do with this film. They were hoping to take the post millennial ghost story and put a twist on it, and at the same time, push Jacki Weaver’s character into a point where she is the linchpin for a series of tales, maybe a future franchise but there are a few problems.
The first is the two leads are boring and generic. It’s not they act badly, they just don’t seem to be given too much to do and when the ghostly happening do start to occur, the story doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with them.
The next problem is the ghost radio thing doesn’t really seem to be given much of a story. It’s there and then it’s not, and then it’s back, and it seems it supposed to be this epic device to get to speak to the afterlife, and it has a cool design, but it doesn’t feel like it gets the reverence it’s probably should.
The last issue is Jacki Weaver. She takes command of every scene she is in, but doesn’t really have any one to act with. She is given a couple of really great scenes but it’s just not enough.
I’m not saying it doesn’t lend itself to a sequel, it really does as there is a skeleton of an interesting story starring Weaver and the ghost radio, but it just needs to be a little more horrific, and maybe a ghost redesign as The Conjuring styled ghosts, with their j-horror influences are old hat now… surely there is still an art designer out there with a fresh idea!
Extras: This disc entertains a complete lack of extras except for three trailers that show before the movie starts, which are for Two Men in Town, Poker Night and The Devil’s Hand.
WISIA: A well acted and finely directed but at the end wholly unsatisfying movie. I doubt if I’ll ever watch it again. I would suggest though that it’s one of those films where a lot of dialogue may hint at the ‘secret’ ending, so a second watch may be full of ‘ooooooooooh’ moments.