Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Haunter

Clever haunted-house pic will please more than hardcore fright fans.

Oct 17, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1387348-Haunter_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Turning the tables on the haunted-house film by focusing on the fear and confusion of a girl whose post-death limbo may be terrifying some poor living family, Vincenzo Natali's Haunter is a love letter to ghost stories whose fresh angle should appeal to viewers outside the genre's base. Less twisted than Natali's last film, Splice, it's sufficiently novel to uphold his reputation as a filmmaker not content telling conventional fanboy stories.

For reasons she can't know, teenager Lisa Johnson (Abigail Breslin) is stuck in a Groundhog Day-like loop—not only living the same 1985 day over and over, but doing so stuck with her family on a day so foggy no one leaves the house. Though she's aware of the repetition, no one else is: In a nice metaphor for no-end-in-sight adolescence, her attempts to explain to her parents that they've been cooking the same meal and assigning the same chore every day are seen as troublemaking nonsense.

Then Lisa starts hearing things, uncovering clues that point not to a poltergeist but to the possibility that she herself is dead. Breaking routine, a creepy "phone repairman" drops by, pulling her aside to say he doesn't care how she "woke up," but she'd better play dumb or her family will suffer. Dad develops a nasty temper out of the blue, scaring Lisa and briefly disrupting the house's repetitive cycle. And Lisa learns of a string of teenage girls, stretching back to the ’50s, who disappeared mysteriously.

Lisa's pursuit of the truth delivers most of the same supernatural suspense found in a traditional ghost movie, the creeping through attics and basements made spookier by the heavy-eyeliner gaze of Siouxsie Sioux, the New Wave chanteuse whose face is on the girl's t-shirt.

But the things Lisa learns give her a chance to take a more active role than usual in the story's resolution. Brian King's script may not answer every question it raises, but the connection it draws between this teen and other girls is emotionally and narratively satisfying, reminding us that every spirit inhabiting a haunted house started off as a mortal with problems—usually heartbreaking ones—of her own.

The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Haunter

Clever haunted-house pic will please more than hardcore fright fans.

Oct 17, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1387348-Haunter_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Turning the tables on the haunted-house film by focusing on the fear and confusion of a girl whose post-death limbo may be terrifying some poor living family, Vincenzo Natali's Haunter is a love letter to ghost stories whose fresh angle should appeal to viewers outside the genre's base. Less twisted than Natali's last film, Splice, it's sufficiently novel to uphold his reputation as a filmmaker not content telling conventional fanboy stories.

For reasons she can't know, teenager Lisa Johnson (Abigail Breslin) is stuck in a Groundhog Day-like loop—not only living the same 1985 day over and over, but doing so stuck with her family on a day so foggy no one leaves the house. Though she's aware of the repetition, no one else is: In a nice metaphor for no-end-in-sight adolescence, her attempts to explain to her parents that they've been cooking the same meal and assigning the same chore every day are seen as troublemaking nonsense.

Then Lisa starts hearing things, uncovering clues that point not to a poltergeist but to the possibility that she herself is dead. Breaking routine, a creepy "phone repairman" drops by, pulling her aside to say he doesn't care how she "woke up," but she'd better play dumb or her family will suffer. Dad develops a nasty temper out of the blue, scaring Lisa and briefly disrupting the house's repetitive cycle. And Lisa learns of a string of teenage girls, stretching back to the ’50s, who disappeared mysteriously.

Lisa's pursuit of the truth delivers most of the same supernatural suspense found in a traditional ghost movie, the creeping through attics and basements made spookier by the heavy-eyeliner gaze of Siouxsie Sioux, the New Wave chanteuse whose face is on the girl's t-shirt.

But the things Lisa learns give her a chance to take a more active role than usual in the story's resolution. Brian King's script may not answer every question it raises, but the connection it draws between this teen and other girls is emotionally and narratively satisfying, reminding us that every spirit inhabiting a haunted house started off as a mortal with problems—usually heartbreaking ones—of her own.

The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

For No Good Reason
Film Review: For No Good Reason

A feast for the eyes and the mind, the brilliantly original work of the great Ralph Steadman finally gets its due. More »

Last Passenger
Film Review: Last Passenger

This taut and engaging thriller nicely exploits a common fear—that by simply going about our ordinary lives, any of us could wind up in exactly the wrong place at exactly the wrong time. More »

Young & Beautiful
Film Review: Young & Beautiful

Like a cinematic Scheherezade, François Ozon continues to hypnotize us with his masterful storytelling in this deliciously voyeuristic phase of his career, this time showcasing a true overnight star, the exquisite Marine Vacth.
 More »

Blue Ruin
Film Review: Blue Ruin

An effective regional crime drama in the key of Jeff Nichols, but lacking his emotional and thematic complexity. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Other Woman
Film Review: The Other Woman

Three women bond together to get revenge on a cheating lover in a comedy dominated by a wonderful Leslie Mann. More »

Transcendence
Film Review: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is an idealistic researcher whose consciousness is uploaded into an artificial intelligence in this slick techno-thriller with delusions of seriousness from Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here