Sunday, July 6, 2014

Film Review: Haunt (2013)

Haunt (Review)
United States/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...it's scary sometimes but it's also boring during others."

Teenager Evan Asher (Harrison Gilbertson) and his family move into the infamous Morello home -- home of a curse that killed off most of the Morello family one-by-one...

A very simple and straightforward haunted house story, Haunt follows Evan as he settles in. Eventually, he meets his neighbor, Sam (Liana Liberato), and they start their cheesy relationship. Afterwards, Evan and Sam use a box to contact the dead and unleash a malevolent spirit in the home. And... that's really most of the story. The film starts to pick up its pace during the final act, but also abandons logic and reason -- it is a horror movie, after all. Although very predictable, the ending was decent.

Haunt is an old-school haunted house horror film. It focuses more on its slow-burn pace and atmosphere than it does jump-scares. Unfortunately, the slow-burn pace is too often ineffective, and the atmosphere is often lost due to some of the story. In other words, it's scary sometimes but it's also boring during others. The biggest flaw with the film is the corny romance subplot; Evan and Sam lack chemistry, and their dialogue is cheesy and unnatural -- it's a hopeless romantic's dream. It also becomes a problem because rather than adding to the horror, it takes away from it. Maybe if it were well developed I'd have some emotional attachment, but it isn't.

The acting is all-around decent. Harrison Gilbertson and Liana Liberato are good on their own; their dialogue is often cheesy and they lack chemistry, but they're decent. The film is beautiful; it's a fantastic looking film, I really liked the photography. The music is also great -- I love ominous soundtracks, and this one is occasionally chilling. Apparently this is Mac Carter's directorial debut. He crafts an often spooky film and can occasionally capture an amazingly ominous shot, but the film lacks balance and consistency; the romance subplot is too overwhelming, which is bad since it doesn't offer much to the horror and can't stand on its own.

Overall, Haunt is a decent horror film. I liked the slow-burn pace (whenever it worked), I liked the ominous and spooky atmosphere, and there were at least a handful of decent jump-scares. It's also a beautiful film in terms of cinematography and music. The problems with this one come from the poor and overwhelming romance subplot, the often uneventful story, and some pacing issues. It also lacks originality -- its a been-there-done-that film. I'm caught in the middle.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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