It’s 4:02 pm
Whew!! The cheetah and I were a bit drained by our binge watch and reviewing of “Human Target” and decided we should do a film this time out. I suggested we watch a IFC film as we have really enjoyed the last two we watched,”Liberal Arts” and “Perfect Sense”. He agreed and down to the basement we headed to find a movie we haven’t watched yet.
I suggested a movie we talked about in our “Night Train” review and the cheetah’s tail stood straight up and he grabbed the case from our stack. The movie we picked is a IFC Midnight release called “Haunter” and after I put it on,the cheetah curled up on my chest and away we went…….
The movie opens with 15 year old Lisa Johnson being awakened by her little brother Robbie asking her to help him find some treasure in the basement. Lisa (Abigail Breslin) looks outside at a thick fog outside and sighs. She then dresses and goes downstairs where her brother is now playing Pac-Man.
She sits down at the dinner table playing with a Rubik’s Cube while her mom informs her that her dad is trying to fix the car and asks her where she wants to go on her birthday which is the next day. Lisa then puts down her Cube and says she is tired of what is going on and we learn that her family is stuck in a endless loop,they are all dead and have been dead for years.
But only Lisa has realized this and she begins to try and figure out what exactly happened to her family. But soon she meets The Pale Man (Stephen McHattie) who warns her that if she attempts to investigate or to interfere in any way,she and her family will suffer greatly.
At first Lisa obeys as she is frightened but when she notices different patterns starting to emerge and then meets Olivia,whose family has moved into Lisa’s home and seems to be on the same tragic ending that Lisa’s family has been going through,she moves to find out what exactly happened that fateful night. But with Lisa facing two major hurdles in one,her days starts over at the same time and that the killer himself seems impossible to stop,how can she overcome such supernatural odds and not only save the living but also the dead?
I know my plot outline seems rather thin but in “Haunter”,it HAS to be otherwise I would have to reveal too much and this movie is too good to spoil. It has such a interesting take on the haunted house story and full credit goes to writer Brian King’s script and also to director Vincenzo Natali who knows his way around making classic fanboy films like “Cube” and “Splice”. Having a seasoned pro Natali really keeps “Haunter” tight and builds the tension a little tighter every day that Lisa comes back.
There may a lot of “It’s a haunted Groundhog’s Day” and while the plot has elements,where is really shines is the same as what “Groundhog’s Day” shine as well and that is it’s leading actor or in this case,actress.
Abigail Breslin is an amazing and gifted actress,able to seamlessly play anyone at anytime. Be it a leading role or a character driven part,she really puts in the work and her Lisa Johnson is fine example…from starting off slow,bored and resigned to aware,scared and pissed off,Breslin never sounds a false note. It doesn’t hurt knowing that she loves doing horror films and being scared. In the making of featurette,she mentions a key scene where there was no light and when she suddenly spots McHattie’s Pale Man,her scream is very real and also very loud.
Stephen McHattie once again plays a great bad guy,as I mentioned in our “Red: Werewolf Hunter” review,McHattie seems to really enjoy working in the horror genre and here his Pale Man exudes madness and cunning. When the script is worthy and McHattie is given freedom to groove,he ranks up there with among the best and well known villains working today.
The rest of the cast which includes veteran character actors Michelle Noland and Peter Outerbridge (Who we’ll be talking about again very soon) has Lisa’s parents are solid and add real heft to the story. One theme I keep seeing in some indie horror is the amount of real effort by older actors in these types of films. It is a trend I enjoy seeing because if they are playing it lightly or not seriously,it can just derail everyone’s hard work.
The score by Alex Khaskin is dark,dense but has a nice undercurrent of hope which really allows the viewer to stay in the moment when Lisa begins her quest to find her answers. A nice blend of classical and 80s pop is something one doesn’t see in horror films today.
The cheetah and I both enjoyed “Haunter” very much and we both give it a two thumbs/4 paws straight up.
“Haunter” is unrated but should considered a “PG-13” and it has a run time of 97 minutes.
Special features are packed with two making of features,two commentaries,one by Natali and one by King. It also includes a storyboard version of the film as well which is very interesting to watch.
What recent horror films have you watched and would recommend to us to view?
Drop us a comment as we want to hear from you!