Cinema Review: Haunt | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, May 30th, 2023  


Studio: IFC Midnight
Directed by Mac Carter

Mar 03, 2014 Web Exclusive
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The mother and father in Haunt are far from the worst parents in horror film history—Carrie’s mom, or Jack Torrance have to be up there—but they’re pretty awful. So bad, they could serve as a step-by-step lesson in how not to get your brood picked off by evil spirits in a bad horror flick:

First off, if the big, creepy mansion the real estate agent shows you seems like a deal too good to be true, there is probably some level of merit to the local rumors about it being cursed. Next, it’s a bad idea to up and move your family in, particularly when the previous occupants—a carbon-copy parallel of your two-teenagers-and-a-tween household, to boot—met grisly demises there just a couple years back. And then if your moody, 18-year-old son (Harrison Gilbertson) falls in love with a mysterious girl-next-door (Liana Liberato) who talks him into performing a séance just days into their romance, she’s probably not the kind of young lady you want dating your boy. And finally, try not to find so many silly excuses to leave the kids alone in your haunted house, especially if they’ve been attacked by ghosts once already, and particularly if your youngest claims to have befriended one of the murdered tenants.

Although it rides haunted house movie tropes into the ground—seriously, has this family never seen an episode of Scooby Doo?—Haunt pulls off a handful of effective spooks. The spirits are creepy without falling into the distractingly-bad CGI territory of which so many similar films are guilty. The prologue is tense and unsettling even if the rest of the film follows all of the expected beats, and the small cast seems to put their best efforts into the lackluster dialogue. (Jacki Weaver hams it up in her brief appearances as the previous family’s lone survivor.) Given a better script—or at least, one that was a little more self-aware—Haunt could have been a solid scare; unfortunately, the film isn’t any better than your standard late-winter horror fare.

Author rating: 3/10

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