Movie Review – Haunt (2014)

Haunt (2014) is the directorial debut of Mac Carter and tells of a family who moves into a new house with tragic past. The teenage son begins a physical relationship with a neighbor girl and together they use an EVP box to discover that the house in haunted and try to appease the increasingly dangerous spirits.

Aesthetically the film takes its cues from James Wan, invoking elements of Insidious (2010) and The Conjuring (2013), to varying success. Story-wise there isn’t much new here and some of the plot elements, like the EVP box or the subplot involving the younger sister seeing the ghosts, are clunky and not well explained. We get some effective scenes, like a possessed teenager getting up like a marionette, but we also get an overabundance of creepy music and loud audio cues to let us know we’re supposed to be scared. Clichés as well as ghosts haunt the tale.

The perspective of the film is a decidedly teenage one. The two protagonists are the main focus and the adults are, as per genre tropes, either disbelieving of them or unwilling to assist. However, credit should be given for treating the teenagers with a modicum of intelligence and respect. The young characters are seen as morally responsible, caring, and to a small extent philosophical about their situation. Because of this, even though Haunt has nothing to really recommend it to an adult audience or to experienced horror fans – we’ve seen it before and we’ve seen it done better – this is actually a decent option for teenagers to watch who are just getting into horror. There’s an element of sexual awakening but nothing overtly sexual and teen viewers will likely not feel demeaned or insulted by their depiction throughout the film. In a genre that often offers their age group condescendingly shallow movies, Haunt at least allows the characters to talk through their problems and to treat those around them with dignity and concern.

Grade: D+

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