Saturday, October 18, 2014

31 Days of Halloween 2014: Haunter

*Note: This year for our annual 31 Days of Halloween marathon of horror movie reviews, rather than write about old favorites, we're focusing on modern horror films that haven't had a wide theatrical release. So for the entire month of October, we will be dealing with horror fare that you can find in the “New Release” section of Netflix or (if you still have one) your local video store. So instead of nostalgic appreciations and recommendations, this promises to be more of a “the good, the bad, and the ugly” kind of affair. Hopefully more good than bad and ugly, but that remains to be seen.

Review by Bob Ignizio

HAUNTER is sort of like a cross between GROUNDHOG DAY and THE OTHERS. Ghost girl Lisa Johnson (Abigail Breslin) and the rest of her phantasmal family – dad Bruce (Peter Outerbridge), mom Carole (Michelle Nolden), and little brother Robbie – are stuck reliving the same day in 1985 over and over again. And it's a pretty tiresome day to keep reliving since they can't go anywhere due to the fog surrounding their home and a car that won't start. Still, no one is much bothered by this state of affairs since they don't realize they're stuck in a loop. Once voices from the other side start trying to contact Lisa, though, she becomes aware of her predicament. It doesn't stop the loop, but now there are subtle differences each time she relives the day. Perhaps most notably, a new person becomes a presence in the form of a telephone repairman (Stephen McHattie).

Sure it gets by to a large degree on a high concept gimmick, but HAUNTER is still a pretty fun mystery/ghost story. We know fairly early on that Lisa is already dead, but Brian King's script doesn't hinge on that fact being a surprise. Rather the film is about Lisa having the courage to go into her subconscious and remember what really happened to her and her family, and then to fight to save another family in the present from having the same fate befall them. Director Vincenzo Natali (CUBE, SPLICE) does a fine job of maintaining suspense and generating concern for Lisa even though, in theory, things can't get much worse for her. 3 out of 4 stars.

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