Review: THE HAUNTING OF ALCATRAZ (2020)

One might expect a film called The Haunting Of Alcatraz to have been filmed in California, maybe even with some exteriors shot on the island itself. Failing that, it would at least be shot in America with American actors. But no, Steve Lawson (Hellriser, Killersaurus) shot it in an abandoned prison in the middle of England.

Charlie Schmidt (Tom Hendryk, The Mermaid’s Curse) is a new guard at the world’s most notorious prison. He’s assigned to D Block, Alcatraz’s punishment unit. He works the night shift with Al (Chris Lines, Are We Dead Yet) and Gerry (Marcus Langford, Essex Heist) who don’t seem happy to see him.

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He quickly discovers a web of corruption among the administrators and other guards. But that may be the least of his problems. It seems there’s been a string of disappearances and deaths connected to Cell 13. Disappearances and deaths that date back to the suicide of murderer Ed Wutz (Beau Fowler, I Am Vengeance, Avengement) years before..

I have to give Lawson credit for ambition. Making a period piece set in another country isn’t easy, especially on a low budget. Having the use of the abandoned HM Prison Gloucester for interiors certainly helped. Unfortunately, for a notoriously crowded and heavily staffed facility, Alcatraz looks very empty. The Haunting Of Alcatraz makes the facility look like a ghost prison rather than a ghost-infested one.

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IMDB lists the budget for The Haunting Of Alcatraz at 1,000,000GBP which works out to about 1,200,000.00USD. For that kind of money, they could have afforded plenty of extras to populate the sets. Instead, we have a cast of seven people, just like Lawson’s earlier, admittedly micro-budgeted films. They also could have afforded to actually have things happen instead of endless talk. At least his earlier films had a bit of blood, breasts and beasts to keep things moving along.

Apart from the suicide at the film’s beginning, almost nothing supernatural happens until the last act. A large part of the film’s middle concerns Charlie and Sherry (Helen Crevel, Survival Instinct, Curse Of The Witch’s Doll) a prison nurse.

The final act does pick up a bit, but by then a lot of viewers are going to have tuned out. The Haunting Of Alcatraz is mostly a dull thriller about corruption with a very minimal amount of ghostly activity. Indeed, it seems as though it’s primarily there to give the film a convenient ending.

The Haunting Of Alcatraz is available in the UK via High Fliers Films. You can check their Facebook page for other release plans.

Our Score

Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy

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