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Monday, June 2, 2014

Haunt (MPI/IFC Midnight DVD)

The cover for Haunt totally worked for me. I didn't read the synopsis before watching it. I just stared down that open-mouthed screaming face set against black with death metal font "HAUNT" written across the top of the DVD. Typically when my expectations are kept sufficiently low, IFC really brings the gravy. Haunt has some strong moments with some rather entertaining paranormal sequences balanced with a great big old device used to communicate with the dead. Unfortunately the characters don't entice me in which forces me into the age old dilemma. If I don't like my main characters I surely want them dead. Without a reputable bad guy, how can I care that the protagonists I despise are being killed or tortured and spooked?

Synopsis from MPI/IFC:

Years ago, Dr. Janet Morello (Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook, Animal Kingdom) saw her entire family die in their house under tragic and gruesome circumstances. Now, wanting a change of scenery, she sells her home to the Asher family, including teenage son Evan (Harrison Gilbertson, Need for Speed). Evan is the only one suspicious about his family's supposed new dream house, and after striking up a friendship with his troubled neighbor Samantha (Liana Liberato, Free Ride), he discovers a way to communicate with the ghosts of the slaughtered Morello family. But soon Evan and Sam's morbid curiosity into the supernatural turns dangerous as the spirits start to manifest themselves in the physical world.

I love this old machine our characters use to communicate with the dead. It's very 1940's tube technology kind stuff, and if that was the entire movie I'd probably have enjoyed the entire picture quite a bit more. The focus is on relationships, and as I said before, since these characters don't get under my skin or into my heart I'm forced to find other uses for them. A movie can easily drag on if you're watching a relationship build in which you do not believe. Still, at least Haunt tries to play around with a different sort of diving or spiritual contact device. Ouija boards are great, but let's get with the times. How long until kids are talking with the dead via their iPhones?

The disc is actually stacked with some solid extras from commentaries to cast interviews, a behind the scenes feature and a makeup effects feature.

Modern paranormal researcher types will probably get into this if they can find sympathy for the budding romance between a somewhat unlikely couple. There are some jumps and some fairly standard ghostie makeup which may feel old hate, but at least it doesn't look bad.

You can order Haunt now.

-Doc Terrror

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