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Review: HAUNT (2019)

Haunt comes with some very notable names attached. It’s written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, who wrote A Quiet Place. They’ve also written and directed The Bride Wore Blood and Nightlight, among other credits. And one of the producers is Eli Roth. Granted, that’s not much of a plus to me, but he has his fans, lots of them.

The plot is certainly nothing new. A Halloween haunted house that turns out to be a real house of horrors. We’ve seen that in The Houses That October Built and The Funhouse Massacre. There are even a pair centred around real-life attractions in Buffalo, NY of all places, FrightWorld and House of Horrors: Gates of Hell. Can Haunt bring anything new to the table?

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Harper (Katie Stevens, Polaroid) is trying to get over Sam (Samuel Hunt, Swipe Left) and the abuse, emotional and physical he’s inflicted on her. Her roomies take her along to a Halloween event at the local bar. She meets Nathan (Will Brittain, The Honor Farm, Kong: Skull Island) and along with his buddy Evan (Andrew Caldwell, M.F.A.), they head out to find a haunted house.

They find one under circumstances that would make anyone else run in the other direction. They pull off down a dark street to lose Sam, who is stalking them. Suddenly, a sign advertising a haunted House turns on. Of course, they go in, even if that means leaving their cell phones in a locked box. Of course, it doesn’t end well.

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Haunt builds up nicely. We know the gags are going to turn deadly, and the suspense leading up to it is well done. As the house offers up more disturbing treats, the film grows tenser. Then it happens and things start to unravel.

We start to get the usual slasher clichés. The group splitting up, trusting people they should know not to trust, etc. It’s not badly done, there are some good scares and the obligatory childhood trauma element is worked in nicely. But it’s all very, very predictable, right down to the final scene. Indeed, the most shocking thing about Haunt is the acoustic, female vocal ballad version of Rob Zombie’s Dragula over the end credits.

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Haunt had its world premiere at the Popcorn Frights Festival. And that’s fitting, as it is an acceptable piece of popcorn horror. But with the hype concerning the people involved, expectations were raised a lot higher. If you can lose those expectations, you’ll enjoy the film a lot more.

Momentum Pictures will release Haunt in theatres, on-demand and on digital September 13th, 2019. And yes, that is a Friday.

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