What it might lack in quality Haunt, the new film from writer/directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, best known as the writers of last year’s A Quiet Place, more than makes up in balls to the wall fun. It is, at times, almost awe inspiringly insipid, there can be no doubt, but if you can get past that then what you’ll discover is silly horror working at its absolute best. Superficial and predictable though it may be, the twisted joys of this Eli Roth produced indie brings more than enough to the table and adds something delightful to the growing canon of Halloween horror.
True, you’ve seen it before and, as a horror fan, you’ll recognize the beats before they even come. Take one group of obnoxious college students, add mildly creepy scenario, mix well with crazed killers, and bake for 45 minutes. It’s a simple recipe but why change it if you don’t have to? There’s a kind of comfort to this type of familiar that will satisfy that itch for old school slasher fun without bogging you down with attempts to reinvent the wheel. What you see is what you get, and it works like a warm blanket of blood splattered madness in the cold absence of genuine slasher debauchery in this modern cinematic age.
The movie follows a group of teenage stereotypes friends on Halloween night looking to get drunk and…well, you know. Their adventure leads them to a haunted house promising them the most extreme of immersive horror entertainment. Soon, however, their pursuit of cheap thrills becomes a game of life or death when the extreme haunt of their greatest nightmares is revealed to be a twisted game run by psychopaths.
That’s it. That’s the whole movie. Are you in or out? If you’re in, then Haunt is a lively update of slasher tropes that that appeals to those in the mood for cheap, gore-soaked entertainment. Oh sure, there are some attempts to comment on the nature of trauma and abuse with the story of Harper (Katie Stevens), the pegged-from-the-beginning-final-girl, but, mostly, that goes nowhere. This is a movie here for the blood and the guts and, oh me brothers and sisters, it delivers.
Beck and Woods deliver plenty of old school slasher action complete with practical effects and killer deaths designed to make the audience cringe and squeal. This is the kind of movie that begs to be watched with a group of like minded lovers of mindless horror who will cheer and scream and laugh at the right moments and who are, above all else, in on the joke of it all.
Sure, I could quibble. But why would I? Why should I? Putting any amount of higher thought into Haunt would betray the spirt of the movie. In that most storied of slasher traditions, this movie is here for the purpose of watching and delighting in murder and mayhem. Check your brain at the door and just try to have a good time.
If that doesn’t appeal to you, you already know it and probably aren’t even reading this review. If it does appeal to you then you’re in for an old school treat that you can enjoy whole heartedly for 90 minutes and move on to the next movie. Haunt is a perfect addition to your lineup of Halloween horror marathon watching and, while certainly it will never be a main attraction, is a delightful aside that you might find yourself watching year after year to get into the horrifying spirit of the holiday.
Haunt is now playing in select theaters and available on demand.