“Haunt” (available on VOD) is a new horror flick I would’ve missed if it weren’t for a few “it’s actually pretty fun” reviews I read. But in my defense, the only thing I’d heard prior was that it was produced by Eli Roth. So please forgive me for not being more eager to press play.
Advertised as a movie written and directed by the writers of “A Quiet Place”, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, “Haunt” follows a group of expendable college kids who decide to enter a random extreme haunted house, that one of them saw on a flier earlier that evening; oh, and it’s Halloween night. When they arrive the place looks like an abandoned garage and is riddled with scary clowns. But of course they eagerly enter, split up and terror ensues.
Halfway through this review it sounds like I hated it, but in fact it’s quite the opposite. “Haunt” is fun in the way I remember “Final Destination” being fun. A simple premise with absolutely no expository anything and a really dumb cast of characters, putting themselves into bad situations, which lead to death. The fun is in watching each of these young people meet their fates and try and guess which person (if anybody) survives the night. Also, on a personal note, while this is an R-Rated slasher, it never gets to the point of torture-porn (for which I was grateful) despite Roth’s involvement.
What really differentiates this film from some of the other throw-away horrors you might find online, is what Beck and Woods do visually. They do an excellent job of keeping the tension at an extremely high level by delivering on the fun house scenario scares fairly relentlessly. These two have an excellent grasp of space, visually forcing audiences to get right in there with the characters, trapped in this rusty tetanus filled house of horrors. And it’s this gritty, claustrophobic feeling similarly found in something like 2009’s “The Collector”, which keeps “Haunt” from becoming an over processed low-budget “Escape Room” rip-off.
Final Thought: Yeah, the acting is “meh” and the extended ending seems like an unfortunate afterthought, but this is a movie all about getting from point A to point B in the scariest/most entertaining way possible. And “Haunt” does this well enough to serve as something worth a horror fan’s time and money. Also, as an added bonus the “bad guys” here are actually memorable enough to propel a sequel. Although I have a strange feeling that when people think of Juggalos, the clowns in this movie are what comes to mind.
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