Vampire Owl: Can this be more haunted than our own castle?
Vampire Bat: I don’t think so. We, true vampires provide top quality haunting all the time.
Vampire Owl: In this movie, they become part of a Haunted House attraction, only to find that it is real terror inside.
Vampire Bat: So, these humans want to get into a haunted place, but want to be haunted in a safe manner. It is a strange thing.
Vampire Owl: Yes, there should be no safe haunting. If there is such a thing, it is never really the haunting in the right form.
Vampire Bat: It is time that they realize that things just don’t happen as they want it to happen in a world of chaos.
Vampire Owl: Sooner or later, they would want to be murdered without being dead.
Vampire Bat: They are living in a strange and impossible world of their own.
Vampire Owl: They feel that they can make their own world according to the need, but that is a foolish thought.
Vampire Bat: Yes, sooner or later, they should understand that they are not the masters of this world, and they will never get even close to being something like that.
[Gets a marble cake and three cups of masala tea].
What is the movie about? :: Harper (Katie Stevens) is not having a good time with her alcoholic and abusive boyfriend Sam (Samuel Hunt), and her friends so not approve of him for what he has been letting her go through. The two lovers are very close to breaking up, as the Halloween night arrives, and everyone dresses up in their favourite scary costumes. Her best friend Bailey (Lauryn McClain), along with two other friends Angela (Shazi Raja) and Mallory (Schuyler Helford) attend a party. There, they also meet two guys, Nathan (Will Brittain) and Evan (Andrew Caldwell), who together decide to go on a ride. It is then that Harper feels that she is being stalked by a man wearing a mask. The figure keeps staring at her body on multiple occasions, and she decides to keep close to his friends, as they go on the journey, and stops at a special Halloween attraction, a haunted house. They decide to give it a try, as it has a nice, spooky look suitable for the season.
So, what happens with the events here? :: Just outside the attraction, they meet the Clown (Justin Marxen) of the Haunted House, who makes them surrender their mobile phones and sign forms with their name, address and other details before they are allowed to enter the place. The group which enters the place together, is soon separated. On one side, Bailey, Nathan and Angela finds out that the haunting is real the hard way, as Bailey gets cut on her right arm. At the same time Harper, Evan and Mallory have to crawl through a series of tunnels as well as spend time in coffins as part of the game, but end up losing Mallory who disappears. The two teams meet up again only to find Mallory taken out of a bag by a masked figure who impales her through the head, seemingly killing her. It is then that the group realizes that this is a life-threatening situation, and if they can’t find a way out, they might be killed by traps or masked figures. But is there a way out from there?
The defence of Haunt :: The setting is the one thing that gives this movie the big advantage, and Halloween world with a haunted attraction is what the world never gets tired of watching, and has immense possibilities even without trying too hard. The movie does manage to keep the blood and gore checked, keeping the violence from going too far, as this is a slasher movie made to kill most of its characters in brutal ways, with a setting like this. There are some sequences of terror which comes in, and brings the needed feeling for the audience. It works with the usual fears, and uses them effectively on different occasions created here. There is also a likable protagonist being brought here, and due to what she has been going through, we support her all the time. The masks and the people behind them are terrifying enough to watch, and the movie lives up to its haunted environment, also adding something for the scream queen to shine in the end.
The claws of flaw :: Even though the movie has that haunted house attraction setting, it never really uses it to the full potential, and neither does it manages the best with the youngsters from a party looking for Halloween fun. If you have watched Escape Room, you will know how tricky and scary the rooms can get, even without qualifying as a horror movie in essence – a life-threatening crisis is always the biggest challenge which can be displayed in grand style, no matter what the genre is, and horror has it easy. Haunt does make much of an attempt at divergence and innovation which could have come naturally, as options were always open. The moments before they reach the haunted house are pretty much dull, and that takes some valuable time which could have been used to add more scares into the movie. The movie also adds a certain amount of flashback to its protagonist, which also drags a little bit here and there.
Performers of the soul :: Katie Stevens might be best known for participating in the ninth season of American Idol and also for being part of some of the popular television series, but she is a new figure for the audience here. She was there in the Kathryn Prescott starrer Polaroid in which she had a small role of the girl who was hosting the party, and the second person to be killed in it. The actresses like Samantha Logan and Priscilla Quintana had bigger role than her in that movie. But here, we can see that Katie establishes her very well as one of the best scream queens in her twenties, even though understanding her potential, we know that she could have been given more to do within that haunted house, and the whole thing should have been focused even more on her. Will Brittain plays the male lead pretty well. Lauryn McClain, Schuyler Helford and Shazi Raja manage their roles pretty well. Andrew Caldwell also adds a little, but the masked ones score above them all sharing the glory with Katie.
How it finishes :: It has to be noted that despite having such a fine setting for terror resembling movies like The Collector, Saw and Hostel, this movie is something which has not been watched much by the people from this part of the world, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most people do not know that such a movie exists. Haunt is a movie that deserves some audience, even though it still hasn’t used its elements as much as the horror fans would have wanted it to. When you are locked in a haunted house attraction with psychopath killers wearing masks, you would surely expect more. Otherwise, the move manages to do its job just fine, and the movie maintains the level it had in the beginning, never really altering the mode. You can watch this to add another horror slasher with some traps and killers walking around, and the main characters always in danger, death walking through every corner – you know the ways of evil. After all, each and every movie can’t be Doctor Sleep, Lights Out, It Follows or Don’t Breathe.
Release date: 13th September 2019
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
Starring: Katie Stevens, Shazi Raja, Lauryn McClain, Will Brittain, Schuyler Helford, Andrew Caldwell, Chaney Morrow, Justin Marxen, Samuel Hunt, Damian Maffei
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.