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Nothing really special here, a story about a haunted house, two
characters that weren't quite exploited enough, scares that came so
late and soft, a twist that didn't manage to stand tall.
It wanted to be something, you can clearly see it tried, but somewhere, it failed, somewhere along the plot development, when they tried to make it more than it could be. In the end it is a movie about a haunted house, so don't get your hopes too high, cause originality is something too hard to achieve, working around with just 2 actors make the viewer feel deserted, and scares that won't come when they suppose to, leave him even more alone.
Not so many reasons to recommend this one: yes, average horror at its best, a somewhat effort put into it, but still, it falls flat. Sorry to say so.
It will come down to everyone's personal opinion, but all horror movie fans, will feel that they didn't get the larger slice here.
An introverted teen (Harrison Gilbertson) connects with his new
neighbor (Liana Liberato), and together the couple begins to explore
the haunted house that his family has unknowingly just purchased.
There are some things worth liking about this film. The cinematographer is excellent, first of all, and the snow shots look great. Casting Liana Liberato was a wise move, as she has "the look" that could really take her places in the coming years. And the inclusion of the supernatural radio (for lack of a better term) was cool.
What was not appreciated was the writer's apparent influence from "American Horror Story". Maybe this is all coincidental, but the house full of ghosts, the strange neighbor, it all seemed very familiar. And not really in a good way. Other reviews have called the film unoriginal, and they are right. While few horror films are, this one is even more derivative than others.
Perhaps most strange of all was the poor advertising from IFC. The cover art is not terribly persuasive, and they make no mention of Jacki Weaver or Ione Skye. Weaver gets a mention on the back, but these are two names that should be put prominently on the cover. Why would you not play up having a two-time Oscar nominee in your film?
The Asher family buys an isolated manor where a tragedy happened with
the previous owners, the Morello family, when the father and his three
children died. The only survivor, the pediatrician Janet Morello (Jacki
Weaver), sells the house to Alan Asher (Brian Wimmer) and his wife
Emily (Ione Skye), and they move with their children, the teenagers
Evan (Harrison Gilbertson) and Sara (Danielle Chuchran) and the girl
Anita (Ella Harris).
The shy Evan meets the teenager Sam (Liana Liberato), who is abused by her father, and they start to see each other. Sam finds an old radio- like apparatus used to communicate with the dead in the attic and they decide to use it. Soon they learn that they have unleashed an evil force that is haunting them but Evan's parents do not believe in ghosts.
"Haunt" is a weak horror movie of haunted house where the only thing new is the apparatus that is a radio to communicate with the dead. The screenplay is boring and gives the sensation that something is missing to be a good story. Watching this movie is a waste of time even in a rainy and cold Saturday afternoon. My vote is three.
Title (Brazil): "A Face do Mal" ("The Face of the Evil")
"Haunt" is about the house where the Morello family lived. Dr. Janet
Morello (Jacki Weaver) was a pediatrician. When they moved in though,
their three teenage kids all suffer terrible unexpected deaths. Later,
even her husband Franklin also fell dead. Ordinarily, a house with such
a creepy history would have been left for abandonment already.
However, how could there be a horror movie if there was no foolhardy family who was still brave or desperate enough to live in that house despite its sinister past? Enter the Asher family, a couple who happened to also have three teenage kids, exactly like those of the Morellos. It did not take long though that strange things begin to happen to the new tenants.
The focus of this story was the middle boy, 18 year-old Evan (Harrison Gilbertson). One night, he met a pretty but mysterious girl Sam (Liana Liberato) whom he saw crying in the woods outside their house. The two became closer as they try to communicate with the spirits living inside the house with an old microphone set. Of course, their interaction with the ghosts did not stop there.
The presence of two-time Oscar Best Supporting Actress nominee Jacki Weaver gives the cast some credibility. She has this very unusually distinct face whom you can't shake off once you've seen it. The young lead cast, Gilbertson and Liberato, also did very well despite the offbeat love story they were made to portray. The girl Liana Liberato should really get a better break already than small films like this. She has some acting chops as she had already shown years back in the harrowing child molestation drama "Trust". 1980s film fans may also recognize Ione Skye of "River's Edge" and "Say Anything" fame. She plays Mrs. Asher here, though she was not really made to do too much.
I really liked the way this movie started. It boasts of excellent cinematography and imaginative special effects. The sets and the pace of story-telling was tense and creepy. As the story was reaching its climax though, it simply gave up and went nowhere. The back story given for the events were terribly plain, no thrill about it.
Overall, this film was a big disappointment. While the opening sequences promised another excellent haunted house movie, the ending scenes were simply mediocre, an appalling waste of potential and talented cast. 4/10.
Very similar in look and feel to "The Conjuring" (2013) and "Insidious" (2010) but with central characters that are teenagers rather than adults. The similarities make it feel a bit formulaic, but it's a good formula. Scary and frightening like a haunted house movie (the movie's self-aware opening narration describes itself as a ghost story) ought to be, its intensity is too much for PG-13 but lacks the explicit violence and gore typical for R. Three jump moments were quite effective, which again indicates a PG-13 level of scariness, but the overall creepiness of the unfolding mystery is even more compelling. Rather than coming apart in the third act, the movie features a complete ending that wraps up and justifies the story. Kudos to the prop maker who created the vacuum tube-era radio box, one of the creepiest "characters" in the story. This movie is well-made, scary, and a welcome addition to the modern horror genre.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Almost a slight taste of Amityville Horror 2:The possession.. feeling.. Like the atmosphere of the room, how it came across that something wasn't right...but the movie never continued and the intensity and foreboding evil essence..if they had focused on that angle and fuelled it by the attic that had a small door and behind that door was some hidden rooms , that held the center of the movie, instead the attic seemed fine and OK the sleep in but the little door became the focus of the storyline, and not even the little room was giving a history about it, and the what i would call The Spirit Phone used to call the 'other side' ...also gave us no history of meaning, Yhe movie failed in parts which unfortunately shrouded the film as vague and ungiving ..where if the writers gave us a bit more depth, on keeping the attic a room that made u feel uncomfortable ,,and the strange little door ..that behind was a small little room, with a dark cold place that gave us a sense of fear, as parts of its past and what went on in there, and was it that way only because of some strange box.. a telephone to the other side, and told us why it was made, invented for a specific purpose ,,and by whom,,..the box lacked,,a what should have shown a invention of an evil machine that attracts only bad things... The actors were all good, the basic storyline was fresh and could have become a movie compared to the Amityville 2 to even challenge it.. I gave it a 6/10 rating
I read about Haunt today in Fangoria Magazine and it really sounded
like a cut above many of the genre films. Well, I looked it up, got my
hands on a copy of it and sat down to see if it would give me some
chills and thrills. No such luck.
For a ghost story that's complete with a haunted house, box that allows the living to communicate with the dead, and a pretty decent looking spirit, this is a complete snoozer. If I thought the first half was tedious and dull, the second half didn't really improve on that much.
A family moves into a house that has a history of several other family members dying there. How did they die? Why did they die? Why are the hauntings starting up again? Those questions are lost as viewers ask questions like do the parents actually have jobs or are they independently wealthy? The parents don't mind when a girl who shows up and starts bunking with their teenage son?
Truly, it's agony pointing out the plot holes because there are a huge number of them. There's a tiny bit of tension here and there, some of which is ruined by those lovely jarring scare noises when something happens on screen. It's just a sign of director who doesn't trust what he's putting in front of us to do the trick.
Simply put, don't waste your time. Haunt is a snoozer.
Haunt is a very competent horror film because of its sinister atmosphere, competent direction and an interesting screenplay with some innovative elements. My favorite one of those elements was the electronic synthesizer of ghost voices, a kind of steampunk E.V.P. radio which allows communication with the deceased ones... or with whatever presence is rounding the haunted house. There are other ingenious elements in the screenplay, but I prefer not to reveal them in order to avoid spoilers. What I can reveal is that Liana Liberato and Harrison Gilbertson bring solid performances and have a perfect chemistry with each other as the "odd couple" with different methods and motivations to solve the mystery. I found the romantic sub-plot between their characters a bit irrelevant, but the investigation they make adequately combines the tense search of evidences with paused reflections about the origin of the supernatural events. Speaking of which, Haunt makes a good use of practical effects in order to bring the ghosts and appearances to shape, obtaining some good shocks and moments of a delicious suspense. On the negative side, some edition tricks and sonorous accents feel a bit excessive. Nevertheless, I found Haunt a very entertaining horror film with an interesting mystery, good scares and credible characters who, at the difference of many films from this genre, generate empathy on the audience. Comparing Haunt with other "haunted house" films from the last 5 years, I would place it below Insidious or The Conjuring, but above Sinister or any of the Paranormal Activity sequels.
The movie has a very strong beginning. Sound effects throughout are
very clear and nicely put (for those scary moments you are waiting for
to jump off your seat). But after that strong start, you might find
yourself a bit too relaxed and the new characters introduced do not get
enough screen time. Other than that, one of the most major flaws is
that the story lacks a bit of sense.
It's a shame, it could've been so much better. Not to mention the typical "stupid" behavior, that our characters show, despite knowing better. The mothers (characters) seem to be doing the best job from anyone else. Still there is enough to be entertained, if you allow yourself not to be bothered
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
HAUNT (2013) ** Liana Liberato, Jacki Weaver, Harrison Gilbertson, Ione Skye, Danielle Chuchran. Fairly standard haunted house thriller that owes a great deal to THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and practically every other Stephen King ghost story in this rather boring horror flick about a family (knowingly!) moving into a house whose previous tenants were killed and a mysterious neighbor teen (Liberato) who infiltrates their environs as well. Some wonky continuity (i.e. girl with toenail polish enters tub then shown without it), the dictionary meaning of the film's title (which is completely off!) and the fact the film makes the cardinal sin of showcasing a superior horror film within it (someone is watching the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) speaks volumes of how sloppily this film was slapped together. And while it offers an over-acting Weaver it also gives a nice strong turn by the long-missed on screen Skye as the young mother, who deserves better; so do you. (Dir: Mac Carter)
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