by Brody Rossiter
Horror fans are familiar with haunted homes of all different shapes and sizes, however, there is an archetypal structure into which various terrors are repeatedly crammed. Typically the property is rather large, it’s somewhat secluded, and possesses a basement and attic – which are also often possessed. There’s a good deal of history that comes with a house infested with wrathful spirits. Brutal family murders, foundations resting upon ancient burial grounds, residents dabbling in the occult – such unique selling points all equate to a litany of frightful things that go bump in the night.
2014’s Haunt collects numerous familiar horror trademarks and crams them into the crawlspace of household plagued by supernatural activity and a decidedly ghoulish past – resulting in a predictable yet nevertheless satisfyingly scary experience.
After the Morello family are dispatched one-by-one thanks to a series of unfortunate and suicidal events, the family’s matriarch Janet sells their home to the Ashers. It doesn’t take long for the Asher kids to start experiencing their own hauntings. Fuse boxes trip, sodden footprints materialise and hazy silhouettes jolt through the darkness. Alongside neighbour Sam, the Ashers’ introverted teenage son, Evan, inadvisably decides to “make contact” with whatever is lurking behind the locked hatch inside his bedroom.
Infested with an array of jump-scares and creepy atmospherics, Haunt is far from unique. Nevertheless, the brute force of its ghostly activity leaves little time to consider creative shortcomings and will leave you reeling from one menacing passage to the next. The casting is solid and the characters’ self-awareness when it comes to their plight is a refreshing counterpoint to the recognisable genre tropes. Combine this with a shocking narrative twist and you could do much worse. Just remember, no matter how edgy or attractive the girl next door is, never agree to talk to the dead with her…just watch a scary movie instead.