Monday, August 18, 2014

Huh?nt: "Haunt" (2014)

It's another turn at the age old haunted house story, but "Haunt" does answer a very pressing question- whatever happened to Ione Skye?

The Morello family has seen it's share of tragedy. Three of their children die, and when the husband is finally killed by a strange paranormal being, Janet Morello (Jacki Weaver, looking just like Sally Struthers) leaves her giant isolated mansion. The Asher family moves in (Ione Skye relegated to the Mom role), and 18 year old Evan (Harrison Gilbertson) claims the cavernous attic bedroom once occupied by now dead teen Matthew Morello (Sebastian Barr). Evan and his two sisters begin noticing odd things in the house right away. Evan stumbles upon a beaten Sam (Liana Leberato), who is inexplicably drawn to the house, and the two begin a romantic and sexual relationship right under Evan's overly permissive parents' noses. There is a small room just off Evan's bedroom that seems to be the center of creepy activity, although Evan's younger sister Anita (Ella Harris) also finds time to snag an imaginary friend.

Evan and Sam conveniently discover an Electronic Voice Phenomenon machine in the small room, a machine that the original owner of the house was using when he was killed, and the two try it out. Soon, we discover the source of the paranormal activity in the house, and despite a surprising ending, the film makers leave us with many questions unanswered.

They also leave us with a mediocre horror film that does have some good moments. The cold Utah location is outstanding. However, Andrew Barrer's screenplay is padded with some deathly dull dialogue between Evan and Sam about the hauntings. I don't know if he was trying to recreate what was going through the viewers' minds, but much of it leads nowhere. Director Carter makes good use of the jump scare, and adding little pieces of terror in amongst the big house set. The film is already brief, and I wish more work had been done on the screenplay, though. I can't help but come back to what a mess it is, and wonder why no one questioned the leaps in logic, obvious plot turns, and an ending that makes you start your questions with a "yeah, but...".

"Haunt" is purely average, but with enough atmosphere to slightly recommend it. (* * *) out of five stars.