October's Daily Horror Dose 3: Reckoning - Day #20 - Haunter

Haunter once again reminds me how fun it can be to go into a movie knowing literally nothing about it. I remember hearing positive things about the movie last year and it had a very, very brief run at my local cheap theatre but I had largely forgotten about it until I saw it while browsing Netflix. Having just watched The Pact I wasn’t sure I wanted to go into another ghost story this quickly but figured I would start watching it and then decide whether I wanted to keep going. Haunter then proceeded to grab me by the throat and ensure that I would be sticking with it until the very end.

It’s going to be tricky to talk about this one without giving away too much because I really feel a large part of the appeal comes from going into it 100% ignorant of the plot. Let’s just say that there are indeed ghosts and a house that contains said ghosts, and the rest I will leave as a complete mystery. I will say that I thought I was all smart and had guessed the end twist only a few minutes in, only to then have that theory immediately debunked when said twist was not even a twist, but an early plot point that is revealed right away. That is when I knew this was a movie worth watching.

Abigail Breslin is the lead and this is totally her show as I don’t recall almost any scenes that did not prominently feature her. Thankfully she is completely up to the task and is great here, running the gamut from typical sarcastic teenager to absolutely terrified, often within the same scene. The supporting actors around her (of which there are only a handful) are good as well but this is the Breslin show and she truly shines here.

As with The Pact, the action here is largely contained within a single location and they absolutely make the most of it. From creepy attics to secret corridors the entire house is given an ominous feel; hell they even make the washer and dryer seem unsettling. There’s great use of perpetual fog and the movie knows exactly how to use sound to make for some truly creepy moments. However, as with The Pact, the middle stretch of the movie is a bit slow and also a bit repetitive. We get numerous sequences of Breslin exploring the house and encountering strange phenomenon and while they get a lot of mileage out of this the first few times, it starts to get a tad tedious around the halfway mark and I was more than ready for the plot to progress further. Yes it’s true that a certain plot point requires repetition but I found this idea expanded into the general scares as well.

While things definitely pick up in the home stretch, I will say I was a touch disappointed by the overall resolution of things. What begins as a very intriguing mystery eventually finds itself treading in some familiar territory and while it is still well executed, it can’t match what came before it and causes the movie to peter out slightly, not quite living up to the potential it showed in the first act.

My god these reviews are getting short but I suppose I am writing one a day and likely running out of original thoughts. Plus there’s not a whole lot more to say than that. Great opening that sets up a very intriguing premise that is not paid off as satisfying as I would hope but still makes for an entertaining ride.

Oh they also lose points for showing the little brother playing what is clearly Atari 2600 Pac-Man and laying over the arcade noises. Shame on you Haunter, you’re better than that!