Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Haunt

Straightforward haunted-house yarn holds few surprises.

March 4, 2014

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1395268-Haunt_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Jacki Weaver lends her oft-unsettling presence to a ho-hum haunted house yarn in Haunt, Mac Carter's take on an encounter between innocent living youths and the mysterious entities beyond the grave. Respectably crafted but short on invention and serious scares, the picture is unlikely to last long in theatres before drifting into the crowded limbo of on-demand fright flicks.

Weaver plays Janet Morello, a pediatrician whose husband and three kids died one-by-one—"the Morello Curse," it was called—in a home she finally gave in and sold. But she returns on the day the new Asher family moves in: "I left something behind," she says with those unnaturally wide-open eyes. But it isn't only the portrait of her teenage son that Janet left in the recesses of her old attic.

Evan (Harrison Gilbertson), who has claimed the attic as his domain, finds the Morellos' most important possession: a wind-up radio-like gizmo built to communicate with the dead. He and Sam (Liana Liberato), a neighbor who befriends him while hiding out from her abusive father, decide to see if the machine works.

It does, and its operations won't surprise any horror buffs in the audience. Figures materialize abruptly in the frame while our heroes look in the other direction; visions of past traumas materialize as faux-vintage film footage; spirits take over living beings, whose veins and eyes run black with the gunk of the undead. (Isn't there a laser surgery for that now?) However suitable the photography and production design are to this action, nothing about it feels fresh.

Gilbertson and Liberato are sympathetic as lonely teens seeking comfort in each other, but Andrew Barrer's screenplay offers little more than that as they debate whether to destroy the magic box once ghosts begin to appear or "finish what they've started." The script's framing-device narration is especially uninspired, and Weaver's stretched-out delivery of it borders on the hokey instead of giving us the creeps.

The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Haunt

Straightforward haunted-house yarn holds few surprises.

March 4, 2014

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1395268-Haunt_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Jacki Weaver lends her oft-unsettling presence to a ho-hum haunted house yarn in Haunt, Mac Carter's take on an encounter between innocent living youths and the mysterious entities beyond the grave. Respectably crafted but short on invention and serious scares, the picture is unlikely to last long in theatres before drifting into the crowded limbo of on-demand fright flicks.

Weaver plays Janet Morello, a pediatrician whose husband and three kids died one-by-one—"the Morello Curse," it was called—in a home she finally gave in and sold. But she returns on the day the new Asher family moves in: "I left something behind," she says with those unnaturally wide-open eyes. But it isn't only the portrait of her teenage son that Janet left in the recesses of her old attic.

Evan (Harrison Gilbertson), who has claimed the attic as his domain, finds the Morellos' most important possession: a wind-up radio-like gizmo built to communicate with the dead. He and Sam (Liana Liberato), a neighbor who befriends him while hiding out from her abusive father, decide to see if the machine works.

It does, and its operations won't surprise any horror buffs in the audience. Figures materialize abruptly in the frame while our heroes look in the other direction; visions of past traumas materialize as faux-vintage film footage; spirits take over living beings, whose veins and eyes run black with the gunk of the undead. (Isn't there a laser surgery for that now?) However suitable the photography and production design are to this action, nothing about it feels fresh.

Gilbertson and Liberato are sympathetic as lonely teens seeking comfort in each other, but Andrew Barrer's screenplay offers little more than that as they debate whether to destroy the magic box once ghosts begin to appear or "finish what they've started." The script's framing-device narration is especially uninspired, and Weaver's stretched-out delivery of it borders on the hokey instead of giving us the creeps.

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

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
Film Review: The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Venture inside the hallowed hallways of Japan's most prestigious animation studio in this insightful documentary. More »

Antarctica: A  Year On Ice
Film Review: Antarctica: A Year on Ice

Thrilling, award-winning New Zealand doc about the mysterious and forbidding continent at the bottom of the world is not your usual travelogue, but a surprising exploration of the human soul and human needs. Happily, adorable penguins and stunning visuals also get screen time. More »

Remote Area Medical
Film Review: Remote Area Medical

Doc offers in-the-trenches evidence of dire need in the U.S. health-care system. More »

Immortalists
Film Review: The Immortalists

Attention-grabbing subject meets colorful characters in this science doc. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Penguins of Madagascar
Film Review: Penguins of Madagascar

Frenetic vehicle for supporting players from the Madagascar films will entertain kids but prove a little wearying for their parents. More »

imitation game
Film Review: The Imitation Game

Terrific biopic about world-class mathematician and social misfit Alan Turing, who, in spite of a painful struggle with his homosexuality, helped the Allies break the code of the Nazis' Enigma machine. 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