• James Harvey

Film Review: Haunt - 2014


Format: Amazon Video Language: English Released: 2014

Director: Mac Carter

Starring: Jacki Weaver, Liana Liberato, Harrison Gilbertson

Haunt opens with a bereaved Franklin Morello (Carl Hadra), who while endeavoring to contact his dead family using an E.V.P device, gets murdered by a spirit hand.

As an opening it’s rather good; setting a scene of vengeful spirits, emotional regrets and mysteries and generally propagating so many questions that you want to hang on to the end to see them answered.

Regrettably that’s where it seems Mac Carter runs out of story. What follows for the next one and a half hours is a dull attempt at stretching what could have been a good short story across a picture plagued with pointless filler shots, bad editing and mediocre acting.

To be fair Liana Liberto does manage a good performance, in places. Harrison Gilbertson however, is just appalling; he is unconvincing, uncaring and looks bored and detached from the story throughout the production, which is exactly how I felt by the time the all too predictable ‘twist’ was played out.

© October Films

There is some good in the film, if you can stick with it long enough to spot it, yet with every good piece there is a downside. For example; when the spirits turn up (and they do so alarmingly often) they look suitably unnerving and sinister, yet from the opening titles the editing and shot set up makes it obvious when they’re coming; now in a film that relies on its ‘jump’ scares that makes the whole thing redundant – the appearance of ghoulies and ghosties is supposed to be a surprise!

Another example of this good/bad content is the sound editing (Mandell Winter is credited as Sound Editor). The sound, especially when the E.V.P device is in use is chilling and extremely unnerving and this is good, it’s a horror film. The down side in this case is the reaction of the characters. Evan Asher (Harrison Gilbertson) and Sam (Liana Liberato) just don’t look bothered half the time (actually Evan doesn’t seem bothered any of the time) and this means the viewer is not really bothered either.

While I can pick out the Sound Editing, CGI/SFX and some of the cinematography for praise the rest, acting editing etc., kind of defeats the purpose of a film. The sound and effects should be used to create a visual whole that sucks the viewer in and makes them care about the characters and what is happening, not be picked out and used as examples of good bits in a mediocre film.

If you find it on television one evening and you have nothing else to do then yes, give it a look. As background to reading the paper or taking your mind off the ironing (!) it might be okay, or maybe you could organise a ‘spot the emotion’ competition, but I can’t see why anyone would watch it otherwise.

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