Movie Reviews

‘Haunter’: Slow-burning hell at home

By David LeeMovies - 26 February 2014 1:00 PM

‘Haunter’: Slow-burning hell at home

Our Rating

3/5 Stars

‘Haunter’ is a small independent horror film about a family of four, who relive the day repeatedly in the same house.

Canadian actors Pete Outerbridge and Michelle Nolden give effective, layered performances, supported by Abigail Breslin (‘Little Miss Sunshine’) as their elder daughter Lisa, and a cute Peter DaCunha as their younger son. 

Early on in the movie, when the events start to get repetitive, it slowly dawns on Lisa that she and her whole family are dead, and they are all spirits trapped in the house by an unknown force.

SIMILAR CONCEPT

Quite similar to the concept previously used in ‘The Others’ and ‘The Sixth Sense’, the rest of the family do not seem to realise that they are dead, and continue re-living the same day, much to Lisa’s frustration. 

Adding to the mix is a powerful and evil entity known as the Pale Man, played with sinister glee by Stephen McHattie, who soon reveals himself to be the mastermind enslaving the family. His other incarnation is a boy named Edgar. 

As the story plods along, Lisa befriends another girl Olivia, who is around her age and is from another dimension, the portal of the living. The two communicate with each other through reflections, with Lisa being able to “possess” and control Olivia, even getting to know her family.

This leads Lisa to discover that Olivia’s family are in danger of slipping into the dead zone like her, and her mission to save them from the clutches of evil.

WHO CARES ABOUT THE DEAD?

The first half of ‘Haunter’ is rather slow-paced and while it keeps the audience guessing for a while, wondering what might be happening, it is revealed rather too soon that Lisa’s family are a family of spirits.

When you are told that the main characters are already dead, no matter how they are being terrorised by the demon or trapped within the house as unknowing prisoners, it is hard for the audience to really care for what is happening because they are dead anyway.

It is also a little irritating to sit through Breslin’s overacting at parts against her family’s passivity and ignorance.

DRAMA UNFOLDS

But when the plot moves along to reveal the back story of Lisa’s family, and how they fell victim to the demon Edgar, and the various sacrifices that the family members make for one another, the drama becomes more involving. 

Director Vincenzo Natali, who was behind the cult horror movie ‘Cube’ and the teasing short horror film from ‘Paris Je Taime’ called ‘Quartier De La Madeleine’, with Elijah Wood and Olga Kurylenko as a pair of vampire lovers, is skilful in  setting the mood of the film with his visual effects and set design.

When Lisa had a final showdown to thwart the evil plans of Edgar, the effects enhance the actors’ performances to deliver some exciting and engaging scenes.

But if horror fans are looking to spook themselves out, this is not that kind of film. The film unravels itself to be a family drama hinging on forces of good and evil, and patience is needed to appreciate the satisfying payoff at the end of this almost-100-minute movie.

‘Haunter’ opens in Cathay cinemas 27 February 2014

Movie Photos

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