HAUNTER-Canada/France-97 Mins. 2013
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Written by Brian King
Ghost and haunted house movies have changed over the years. They used to be simple, they followed a pattern. The ghost haunts the house and the living people are scared of it until they can either get rid of it or come to understand what it wants. But then M. Night Shyamalan comes along and decides to make a ghost movie with a twist and pretty soon everybody wants to make a ghost movie with a twist. The disconcerting thing about this is that you can’t just tell another living soul the plot of a ghost movie anymore; you have to be careful not to reveal the ‘twist’ and therefore spoil it for them. There’s a twist to Haunter, but its okay to reveal what it is because it’s an integral part of the plot.
Lisa Johnson lives in a house with her parents, Bruce and Carol; and her brother, Robbie. She complains like any teenager about being bored and doing the same thing every day, day in and day out. The same food, the same TV shows the same talks over and over again. Sometimes a day is a little different, but not by much. There’s a good reason for all this repetitiveness: Lisa and her family are the ones who are dead and haunting the house they’re living in. Before you cough into your hand and say, “The Others” I can assure you that you are only half-right. The main theme of the film is that it’s not the dead that we should be afraid of; it’s the living we should fear. The human in question is a kidnapper and murderer with his sights set on another family. Lisa has to convince his previous victims to ‘wake up’, or realize that they are dead in order to stop the killer and save the still-living family that she’s come to care about.
I admit that I didn’t expect to like Haunter as much as I did. My initial intention was to watch it to get the memory of a far more disturbing film out of my head. Instead, Haunter went beyond my expectations. Yes, it would seem that it is aimed mainly at teens and no, there is no blood or gore. However, a strong performance from Abigail Breslin and the appearance of a wretchedly creepy Stephen McHattie along with a fresh take on a now-old twist make Haunter worth a look.
Abigail Breslin also appears in Zombieland and Little Miss Sunshine.
Peter Outerbridge also appears in Saw VI and Silent Hill:Revelation.
Michelle Nolden also appears in The Time Traveler’s Wife and Red.
Stephen McHattie also appears in Pontypool and The Tall Man.