June 18, 2013
Harriet McMasters-Green as Sophie
Sabrina Perez as Helena
Jarreth Merz as Robert
Sophie is a British expatriate that lives in Italy with her daughter, Helena. After a divorce with the wayward father, the two move into a new flat. While Helena is at school Sophie lectures (it is not clear if she is a professor) about the Fascist times in Italy at (possibly) an institute for higher learning. After picking Helena up, while not paying proper attention, Sophie accidentally smashes the car into an oncoming semi. Luckily both sustain relatively minor injuries, but Helena begins to see the ghost of a toothless woman come out of her closet at night. An old man warns them to leave the new flat just as Helena’s visions become more intense. She begins losing her teeth and buying baby teeth off of students to deliver to the ghost. At Sophie’s request a psychiatrist evaluates Helena. Given the nature of the delusion, he shows the file to a colleague who reveals that a man tore the teeth out of his wife’s mouth and left her to die in Helena’s closet over 60 years ago. Just when Sophie thinks Helena has heard the story from another and has conjured the delusion from a retelling of the tale, both see the toothless ghost together. Can they shake her hold on Helena before it’s too late?
Independent of the last 20 minutes, The Haunting of Helena (2013) is a slightly below average person haunting. Yet, there is a genius of sorts in this. With the Bloody Disgusting name behind it, the film is aimed at fans of hauntings who are used to the formula. Despite the assumedpredictability the action is stimulating enough for most horror aficionados to keep watching. Yet what seems like a predictable outcome is complicated by multiple twists and unexpected entanglements that thread the disparate pieces of the story together in a somewhat surprising way. Seasoned fans will be caught off-guard if only because they recognize the cues at the beginning and expect them to end in about the same place as they have every other time they’ve seen a haunting. Some seemingly superfluous characters are tied very closely to the storyline, just not in a way we are accustomed to seeing them, or as the formula dictates.
The scares are not very frequent, but impressive in their power and simplicity. The gore is appropriate for the content, though there was a missed opportunity to show the graphic details of someone’s teeth being pulled out. However, the makeup work on the victims is first rate and appropriate. And the disturbing theme is typical of most hauntings.
In the end, The Haunting of Helena (2013) is a neat little supernatural thriller with no sequence or plot twist unheard of, but not clichéd either. This one would probably pass mustard as a great haunting was it not for the subpar acting and annoying little unanswered character questions. Such as, why Sophie (who is British) is lecturing to Italians in English (about Italian history no less)? What is her job? The content of her lectures seems somehow tied to Helena’s haunting, but only tangentially.
Bottom Line: Good flick for fans of hauntings. The foreign environment and innovative storyline separates this one from more of the same – making for a decent popcorn movie that won’t leave you checking the locks or sleeping with the lights on. Also a good one to see with a horror novice as the scares are not very intense.