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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Haunt (2013/MPI/IFC Midnight DVD)

Haunt (2013/MPI/IFC Midnight DVD)

Picture B Sound: B Extras: B Film: C-

Haunt is a ghost story along the same lines as the Insidious films but worse. While the concept of resurrecting ghosts and having them attack an unsuspecting family sounds like a tired concept, this film happens to partly pull it off... for the first half of the film. Most of Haunt takes place in darkness and relies on stylistic flashbacks speaking of the ghostly origins of the Morello family and has some pretty good production value and special effects. Some memorable moments of the film center around the little girl that scratches out her family's eyes in pictures and spends time alone talking to the Morello Ghost. I was also happy to see a creepy shower scene as a sort of homage to Psycho. However, the film gradually falls apart over time, depending more on the relationship with two badly acted characters and less time on scary moments. The lack of blood and gore during some scenes also hurt the overall film and takes away from the tension it is trying to create.

Years ago, Dr. Janet Morello (Academy Award nominee Jackie Weaver) saw her entire family die in their house under tragic and gruesome circumstances. Wanting a change of scenery, she sold her home to the Asher family, including teenage son Evan - who is the only one suspicious about his family's supposed new dream house. After striking up a friendship with creepy next door neighbor Samantha, he discovers a way to communicate with the ghosts of the slaughtered Morello family. But soon, Evan and Samantha's morbid curiosity into the supernatural turns dangerous as the spirits start to manifest themselves in the physical world. Now, despite the warnings of Dr. Morello, the teens are determined to discover the terrible secrets that surround these ghastly apparitions and send them back to the realm of the dead before it's too late!!!

Unfortunately, there are more holes in this film than the Titanic. Simply put, the film starts out strong. We got a creepy flashback sequence of the dead Morello family and a first act that holds some promise. There's an old school looking radio that can pick up transmissions from the dead and makeup effects that aren't half bad. What the film lacks is mostly found in its main characters. The acting is below average and the scares are mostly dependent on loud noises or predictable screaming or door slamming. We are never really told how the ghosts died, what Evan's family does for a living or why they decided to move to this house in the first place, or why in the first act they don't seem to mind some randomly neighborhood girl shacking up with their teenage son? Why is it that every time we get to hear the ghosts through the radio there are pianos or violins screeching in the background? This is better than Paranormal Activity but no Poltergeist of The Conjuring.

The final act is quickly cut and full of possession, baby torture, and nailed down doors that shake and rattle open. The twist admittedly isn't very shocking and is in many ways anti-climactic. The possession sequences are a complete let down and make the new Evil Dead (which I was mixed on) look like The Exorcist. They safely stay in wide shots during the possession scenes and don't push the jittered thrashing of the limbs to the limits enough to make you clench, even cutting away at some points. By the end of the film, you are left wanting more and can't help to think of what could have been.

The picture is a little above average for DVD and yet at times fails to support the dark cinematography of the film. Many scenes take place at night and in some scenes the image is so dark that it is almost hard to make out as some scenes that little backlighting. I'm sure the Blu-ray transfer probably improves upon this. Blues and yellows dominate many of the dark scenes and adds to the overall cinematic feel that puts this above your average independent horror films. The shots are all nicely composed and the editing is pretty tight. Audio on the disc is a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track that bounces around your speakers and makes you jump during scary moments. The original aspect ratio of the film is in 2.40:1. Subtitles on the disc are in English SDH and Spanish.

Special Features on the disc are Commentary with Director Mac Carter, Cast/ Crew Interviews, Behind The Scenes, Morello Case File Videos and Home Movies, Makeup Effects Behind The Scenes, and a Trailer.

- James Harland Lockhart V



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