Director: Vincenzo Natali
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 5/10
Vincenzo Natali has always been a director known for his unique and interesting stories. From his debut film Cube, to his latest project Haunter, Natali has consistently proven himself as a director with his own style and voice. While Haunter provides a solid story with some very compelling elements, it slightly flounders in the execution.
The film stars Abigail Breslin as Lisa, a girl plagued with having to relive the same day over and over a la Groundhog Day. They key difference, other than the lack of Bill Murray, is that Lisa is dead. Upon realizing herself and her family were murdered, Lisa must solve the mystery before the latest inhabits of her house receive the same fate.
Due to the twisting plot and many surprise elements, I would be remiss in discussing any other elements of the story other than what’s mentioned above. I would most closely describe this as The Others meets The Lovely Bones meets Groundhog Day.
One thing that’s clear from Natali’s previous efforts, it’s that he has a knack for visuals. This has been proven once again with Haunter, as the visuals are some of the stronger elements of the movie. As the time period shifts in the film, so does the look of the movie itself which is quite effective. The bulk of the movie takes place in the 80s, and everything looks very in line with the decade.
The horror elements of Haunter also rely heavily on the visuals, opting for a more atmospheric approach, rather than lots of blood and guts. While this is always a welcome change in a horror movie, aside from a few jump scares and creepy moments, this film isn’t very terrifying. The CG used throughout the film was also a bit of a mixed bag. Some of the CG work on the interior scenes proved to be effective, however all the exterior shots looked fairly poor.
The only thing that truly keeps this film from feeling mostly generic other than the aesthetics are the multiple twists that occur as Lisa is uncovering the truth behind the house and her death. It’s this element that will most assuredly keep most viewers interested despite being lackluster in most other areas.
For fans of haunted house stories, Haunter will provide some chills, however most horror fans will find the overall theme to be somewhat jaded and end up being disappointed by a film that’s slightly mediocre and forgettable.