Film Review – Haunter (2013)

Stephen McHattie as The Pale Man

Stephen McHattie as The Pale Man


Directed by Vincenzo Natali

Starring Abigail Breslin, Stephen McHattie, Samantha Weinstein

Review by Jordan

The story of a teenage girl Lisa (Breslin) who harbours a distinct disconnect from her seemingly idealistic family, and her discovery that she is repeating the same day over and over again before encountering The Pale Man (a gleefully creepy Stephen McHattie) and realising the truth of her past and the lengths she must go to in order to save others from encountering the same fate, Vincenzo Natali’s Haunter represents a stark deviation for a director once heralded as the next master in scientific horror/thrillers, thanks to his breakthrough cult hit Cube (1997) and uncomfortably weird Splice (2009).

Unfortunately though, despite boasting a refreshingly original story and fantastic villain, in failing to create a single authentic scare and remain of interest for its slim running time, this haunted house loses tremendous value and will more-than likely only remain in viewers memory for the so-bad-they’re-terrific performances of Michelle Nolden and Peter Outerbridge (wearing more makeup than Cameron Diaz trying to remain sexy) as Lisa’s mother and father, and an imaginary friend you would not wish upon your worst enemy.  The plot meanders at snail’s pace, meaning that when we are made to witness the same events occur for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time it becomes frustratingly monotonous, eradicating any care previously had for Lisa or how this tale is set to end, and with scares continuously being chased by constantly resorting to loud, obnoxious orchestral cues, slamming doors or just randomly noisy, utterly irksome sounds Haunter truly begins to grate and test ones patience.

When I first saw Splice (starring Adrian Brody and Canada’s favourite actress Sarah Polley) I found it alarmingly awful, and on a psychological level quite troubling, but as time went by and my thoughts matured to the extent I needed to see it again, I found that awful had become simply awe. For Natali’s sake I hope the same thing occurs here, but with so little to even dwell on, and such obviously poor, lazy direction (we know that Lisa is a misunderstood teen not because of Abigail Breslin’s acting, but because of the Joy Division and David Bowie posters on her bedroom wall) I can’t see it happening… I hold prejudices (a dislike, really) towards certain people in the film industry for often no real reason at all (Ellen Page, Will Smith and his whole family, Christian Bale) but here I believe my uncertainly towards Breslin’s acting ability is proved warranted; her three face expressions and look of total un-involvement further hurting a film already burdened with a severe limp.

Like The Others shed of all sense of cinematic quality, Haunter exists as a perfect example of a well-made student film. The only problem being, it’s a feature.

1.5 quick bicycle rides out of 5

9 responses to “Film Review – Haunter (2013)

    • I’ve never seen Hypercube, always figured it to be a cash in, but maybe I should correct that then. Splice is well worth seeing for its originality alone, it’s extremely un-PC and while I was turned off it immediately, now have a great respect for what Natali created.
      Haunter could well of been made by anyone, it really didn’t create the splash people thought it would.
      Cheers, Jordan

      • Hypercube is sleeker and its traps are cooler, dealing with time distortion and alternate realities and stuff like that. Also, the anonymous powers that be from the first movie are finally revealed.

        I’ll have to buy Splice now, providing it’s cheap. I’m guessing there’s lots of man-on-Splice sex scenes, no?

      • Ah nice, that definitely sounds like it’s worth a watch then! I guess Scream 2 did teach us that sequels have to be bigger and expand on the mythology.
        Ha, not lots… but enough to make you cringe. How Adrien Brody picks his roles these days is a mystery.

    • Yeah I definitely think you should. Considering Species hasn’t aged terribly well, Splice really does hold its own. Prepare yourself for maybe not loving it upon first viewing though.

  1. As someone who was fascinated by the idea of chimera and trans-/post-human horror, I was pretty impressed by Splice. I think I have a stronger stomach than most for body horror, and that blew right past my threshold. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are pretty much the worst scientists put to film, so it was kind of entertaining to watch their complete lack of scientific ethics bite them on the ass.

    It’s a shame this movie doesn’t quite hold up — it sounds like it had a really fun premise to work with.

    • You really would not know they’re by the same director unless you pay attention during the opening credits; I know Natali had less than 30 days to film this entire movie, and a vision in mind that he just could not realise with the resources available to him, but I just hate seeing directors take a backwards step.
      Great to hear you agree on Splice!

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