March 9, 2013
Brian King, Matthew Brian King
Abigail Breslin as: Lisa
Sarah Manninen as: Olivia’s Mother
David Hewlett as: Olivia’s Father
Stephen McHattie as: The Pale Man
Peter Outerbridge as: Bruce
Michelle Nodlen as: Carol
Teenaged Lisa (Abigail Breslin) notices that every day is the same day in 1984 over and over again. The same things occur day in and out, with her sixteenth birthday being the next day… that never comes. It soon becomes very evident to her that she and her family are dead, and that they are in fact ghosts. She begins to try and investigate what it is that is occurring and even attempts to make communication with the voices and form that she sometimes hears and sees. But, her family is soon visited by the creepy the Pale Man; who goes on to warn her to stop from trying to contact the living.
She doesn’t care and persists with her investigation. Soon she begins to bear witness to the type of power and influence that this terrifying man has. The deeper she delves into figuring out what it is that is happening, the farther reaching into the past she sees that truth lies. Dead girls and a serial killer are revealed, as well as the family of the young Olivia, (Eleanor Zichy) who is the one who has been trying and to contact her. As now it is her family who are now in grave danger. Lisa must do her best to save them, stop the evil Pale Man, and allow her own family to be finally at rest.
Director Vincenzo (Cube, Splice) Natali’s reverse ghost film is best described as The Others meets a very dark and creepy Groundhog Day. He gives the movie a great look with some magnificent use of shadows. The fog on the outside of the house recalls the aforementioned The Others, as well as golden age horror films. He also maintains a solid amount of suspense and scary moments throughout the movie, including some jump scares that work quite well. He manages to keep the film always captivating maintaining your interest throughout. Once it had it’s cold icy, grip on me, I simply couldn’t take my eyes off of it and was on the edge of my seat.
In keeping with classic horror movie feel, there really isn’t much FX, until it hits the admitably exciting climax. Personally I prefer this kind of approach when it comes to ghost films, as I believe that it makes the scarier. Natali’s directing is well complimented with a wonderful script. There are some real nice twists and turns as the mystery unfolds. Even when you think you know where the story is going it still manages to throw in some nice surprises. But, the film is not just about pure terror; there is also quite a bit of heart and pathos to it as well.
The heart of this film is Lisa, played by Abigail Breslin (Signs, Zombieland). As always, she is more than up for the task, and in fact, she gives one of the best performances seen in a horror film all year. You feel and care for and her family, and the situation that they are in. Meanwhile, Stephen McHattie is just damn good and outright terrifying and menacing as the Pale Man. I’ve long been a fan of this great and underrated character actor thanks to his villainous turns in films like David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence and the little seen Summer’s Moon. He makes you fear him, just as Lisa does in the movie. They are both complimented by a solid and talented supporting cast.
Haunter is a quiet, great looking, and scary little ghost film with excellent performances. As the movie progresses it sometimes gets a little more over the top, but nothing that really hurts the film. What goes on works well within the context of what the story has set-up. So that, from its captivating beginning to its aforementioned exciting climax, and the ultimately satisfying ending it leads up to; Haunter just plain stratifies those looking for a good ghost story.