Review: 'Haunt' is frustratingly mediocre

Posted at 04/11/14 12:17 PM

"Haunt" is about the house where the Morello family once lived. Dr. Janet Morello (Jacki Weaver) was a pediatrician. When they moved in though, their three teenage kids all suffer terrible unexpected deaths. Later, even her husband Franklin also fell dead, leaving Janet alone to deal with her broken life.

However, how could there be a horror movie if there was no foolhardy family who was still brave (or desperate) enough to live in that house despite its sinister past? Enter the Asher family, a couple who happened to also have three teenage kids, exactly like those of the Morellos. It did not take long though that strange things begin to happen to the new tenants.

The focus of this story was the middle son, 18 year-old Evan (Harrison Gilbertson). One night, he met a pretty but mysterious girl Sam (Liana Liberato) whom he saw crying in the woods outside their house. The two became closer as they try to communicate with the spirits living inside the house with an old microphone set. Of course, their interaction with the ghosts did not stop there.

The presence of two-time Oscar Best Supporting Actress nominee Jacki Weaver gives the cast some credibility. She has this unusual distinct face whom you can't shake off once you've seen it. The young lead cast, Gilbertson and Liberato, also did very well despite the offbeat love story they were made to portray. The girl Liana Liberato should really get a better break already than small films like this. She had already proven her acting chops years back in the harrowing child molestation drama "Trust". 1980s film fans may also recognize Ione Skye of "River's Edge" and "Say Anything" fame. She plays Mrs. Asher here, though she was not really made to do too much.

I really liked the way this movie started. It boasts of excellent cinematography and imaginative special effects. The set-up and the pace of story-telling was effectively tense and creepy. However, as the story was reaching its climax though, it felt like its inspiration simply gave up and the film just went nowhere. The back story given for the events were terribly plain and unsatisfying, no thrills about it.

Overall, this film was a big disappointment. While the opening sequences promised another excellent haunted house movie, the ending scenes were frustratingly mediocre, such a waste of its story potential and its talented cast. 4/10.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."