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Haunt (2019) Review

‘Haunt’ Film Review

by Jessica Gomez on September 20th, 2019 | | , , ,

Haunt was directed by Scott Beck; and stars Katie Stevens, Will Brittain, Shazi Raja and Andrew Caldwell. The film tells the story of a group of friends who decide to check an “extreme” haunted house that promises to feed on their darkest fears. The night turns deadly as they come to the horrifying realization that some nightmares are real.

Some monsters are real

Surprisingly few horror films are based around our favorite holiday of All Hallow’s Eve (though that seems to be changing lately, with the Halloween sequels, Terrifier, and Tales of Halloween), so when I heard Haunt was based on a Halloween theme, I knew I had to review it. I love when a new movie surprises me with how good it is, and Haunt was one of them.

Bestowing honor onto our most sacred day, the opening scene pays homage to John Carpenter’s Halloween with its classic jack-o-lantern display and its text displaying the city. (In Illinois, of course!) We even see an old horror film in the background as Night of the Living Dead plays. (We will later get some homages to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.) Shy and reluctant Harper, who is dealing with a boyfriend who is exhibiting some abhorrent behavior that she’s all too familiar with, decides to throw caution to the wind and spend Halloween night out with her friends. A flyer on their car for an “extreme haunted house” promises to exploit all of their darkest fears, and seeking a thrilling end to their evening, they decide to check it out. 

The first sign that something was amiss at this place was that there was no line! Any good haunted house draws a crowd, and one off the beaten path in the middle of the woods with no other patrons in sight gave it an instantly ominous vibe. (Seriously, if this happens to you, maybe just turn around.) A clown outside awaits them and tensions run high before they even go inside, setting the tone for what’s to come. 

Once they make it in, the house begins with some kitschy, lame scares – bringing their guard down and encouraging them to go further. But once around the corner, they catch a glimpse into what exactly happened to the other haunted house-goers. But what is real, and what’s just part of the show? The house is actually part haunted house, part puzzle; a demented escape room. There are several false-starts where you think something might happen but then doesn’t, which perhaps is to get the viewer to let their guard down, too.

Haunt bares general similarities to 31 and Saw, but it’s disturbing in a more manageable way, maintaining its watchability. It allows us some classic Eli Roth gore without going too far to scare off the occasional horror movie fan. (He also threw in a “weird is good” line, the mantra of CryptTV, of which Roth is invested.) We don’t get much character development except for with Harper, whose story arc I rather enjoyed. I loved the comic relief Andrew Caldwell provided, and he was perfectly cast. The acting from everyone was good and believable, which really sets this one apart from other horror films.

Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, both of whom worked on A Quiet Place, co-wrote and co-directed – and they threw in a small tribute to one of the more uncomfortable scenes in A Quiet Place. 

Without spoiling too much, you can expect to feel real tension, witness insanely creepy moments, and confront classic haunted house fear exploration – all without it relying much on jump scares. 

Worth Watching?

Haunt is definitely a pleasant surprise for this year. It’s hair-raising fun that makes for a perfect Halloween movie addition. Be sure to throw it into your queue.

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