12th Jul2014

‘Haunter’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Abigail Breslin, Stephen McHattie, Peter Outerbridge, Michelle Nolden, Peter DaCunha, Samantha Weinstein, Eleanor Zichy, David Hewlett, Sarah Manninen | Written by Brian King, Matthew Brian King | Directed by Vincenzo Natali

haunter-breslin

Often it feels like there are not enough ghost stories based horror films these days, but then when you think about it we’ve had Insidious, Sinister and The Conjuring just to name a few.  I’m not sure why I feel there needs to be more but this could be a sign that things need to be shaken up a bit.  Saying that though I’ll be reviewing Soulmate soon which is a good old-fashioned ghost story that gets so much right, so most importantly these films just need to be good.  Haunter looks to add a little something different to the mix with the question, do ghosts realise they are actually dead?

To her parents Lisa (Breslin) is just a teenager rebelling against authority, even to the smallest requests such as doing the washing or taking time in family events.  The truth is that Lisa is tired of having to do the same thing day after day, literally.  Stuck in a time loop she feels resigned to the fact that they could be living this life forever, then something changes.  When things start to go strange Lisa feels this may finally be a change for the better, but then there is a visitor to the house.  With a knock at the door the Pale Man (McHattie) has a warning for Lisa to accept her life as it is, or lose her family forever.

The strength of Haunter is that it takes a concept like from the movie The Others and mixes it with Groundhog Day then adds a mystery to the mix to keep the audience thinking.  The idea that a ghost can “wake up” to the fact that they are dead and be pulled out of the loop of just living a certain day over and over totally oblivious of the world around them opens the door to many questions that are thankfully answered.  It’s hard to discuss exactly what the origins of the time loop are without spoiling important plot points, but with a story line that uses not only the past, a hidden secret within the house and even the world of the living the plot is intertwined together masterfully to build up a murder mystery waiting to be discovered.  The fact that it all happens within the one house gives the film a claustrophobic feel, this restriction in locations is a good move for the budget too.  To add a twist though that uses the house at different time periods is also interesting creating a series of layered hauntings that are all connected together that not only include hauntings from the past but also from the future with the living occupants of the house being the present.

Although Stephen McHattie threatens to steal the film as Lisa’s nemesis the Pale Man, Abigail Breslin manages to hold her own to create a character strong enough to take part in a battle of wills.  The fact that when she is intimidated in such a way as to make her stop fighting, yet she still pushes to discover the secret of not only her death but others from different periods of time shows that Breslin’s character needs an inner strength to fight against the the Pale Man attempts.  The fact is the world they are in is his world which he dominates in theory would give Lisa little chance of success but her determination to not only save herself and her family but others too is shown through Breslin’s strong performance.

Haunter is one of those movies that is likely to pass people by, and that would be a shame.  It’s not perfect by any means but it is entertaining and most importantly it uses the ghost story to good effect and at least tries to put a new spin on things.  In a film that doesn’t really provide many scares but rather goes for the mystery behind the haunting this is a little gem of a film just waiting to be discovered.

Haunter is available on DVD and Blu-ray from July 14th 2014, courtesy of StudioCanal.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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