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Friday, September 20, 2013

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Haunter

haunter

Director Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice) returns with a film that can be best described as a “reverse ghost story.”  Lisa (Abigail Breslin) is a teenaged girl, who begins to realize that she and her family are performing the exact same routines every day.  In addition, their house is surrounded by an endless fog and Lisa hears a voice calling her name.  Lisa comes to realize that she and her family are long-dead ghosts living out their last day in some endless purgatory and that she is being contacted by a living girl named Olivia (Eleanor Zichy).  However, Lisa’s investigations attracts the attention of the sinister Pale Man (Stephen McHattie), who warns Lisa not to stick her nose where it does not belong.  However, when Lisa realizes Olivia and her family are in danger, she sets out to stop the Pale Man at all costs.

While Vincenzo Natali is no stranger to the horror genre, I believe that Haunter is the first horror film he has directed that didn’t have any science fiction elements.  At the very least, I can say that Haunter is an interesting film, even if I didn’t think it was particularly that scary.  It is not all that often that a haunted house film is released, which is told from the ghost’s perspective.  Usually when this does happen in films, it is often saved for a twist at the end.  While the film doesn’t immediately reveal that Lisa is dead, it is apparent from the start that something is not right with Lisa and her family, especially with the Groundhog Day-like loop they find themselves in.

Probably the best element of Haunter is Stephen McHattie’s very sinister and scary performance as The Pale Man, who is a serial murderer also haunting the house and continuing his crimes from beyond the grave.  McHattie is undoubtedly one of the great Canadian character actors and he is definitely giving it all in his villainous performance.  Abigail Breslin is competent in the lead role and at the very least you forget that his was once the girl who was Little Miss Sunshine.  Also making a brief appearance in the film is, Natali regular, David Hewlett as Olivia’s father.

I should probably make note of a recurring element of the film, which involves Lisa practicing Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf on the clarinet.  The main theme from the composition is either played on record or incorporated into the score on many occasions and you will likely leave the film with the familiar tune stuck in your head.  That said, I do have to admit that the song actually fits in with the haunting atmosphere of the film.

When you really get down to it, there are probably many better and scarier haunted house films out there than Haunter.  However, the film still has its moments and is at least worth watching based on the strength of Stephen McHattie’s villainous performance.  Overall, I would say that Haunter is an OK film.

7 | FAIR 

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).