10/22/2019

Haunt (Review)


Writer/ Directors:  Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
Cast: Katie Stevens, Will Brittain, Lauyrn Alisa McClain, Andrew Caldwell, Shazi Reja
Year: 2019
Min: 92

Harper (Katie Stevens) is being harassed, via text messages, by her abusive, piece of shit boyfriend. He hits her and has even left her with a black-eye. Try as she may to hide it with make-up, her best friend Bailey (Lauyrn Alisa McClain) notices it. Realizing what is going she invites Harper to join her for a Halloween party. After leaving the club that it was held at, they and three of their friends look for an extreme haunt to continue the holidays festivities. They find one, but it ends up being one where they must for their lives, as they are picked off one by one by the haunt's psychotic, masked workers.
Haunt is a 2019 slasher movie, produced by Eli Roth, that has quickly been garnering positive reviews and word of mouth. And, I am pleased to report, that for once, the hype is well worth it. The writer/ director team of Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, whom together co-wrote and served as executive producers on A Quiet Place, have crafted a tight and tense movie.

Through their co-written script and co-directing, the duo give the film a nice setup and manage to keep your eyes glued to the screen for all of its 92 minutes running time. They  also really take full advantage of its setting. The movie has a really nice and slick look to it, with a nice use of colors, shadows, and lighting. This is most effectively represented by the excellent set design, which is some of my favorite of the year. Beck and Woods know how to build tension as the movie progresses, each moment and scare ratcheting it up more and more. The movie's climax is great and had me gripping my seat in pure white-knuckle intensity. It leads into one hell of an ending, that I absolutely loved!
The whole cast is quite good breathing life into the characters and keeping them likable. They don't come off as annoying or as assholes, like so many a other movies. I am looking at you Hell Fest (and countless of other slasher movies, to be quite honest) and your awful, shitty characters! But, special mentioning must be given to the lovely Katie Stevens as Harper. She is tough, resourceful, easy to like and cheer and an excellent final girl.

A great heroine needs a great villain or villains, of course. And, while the killers aren't very defined they are intimidating. In a way, not giving them a clear reason for their evil makes them scarier and keeps them mysterious. Their masks are simple but effectively creepy. Once they reveal their actual faces, we see that they are even more horrific thanks to some good and realistic makeup FX. FX crew also helps brings life to the kills, which are violent and have some real impact cause we don't want these characters to die. A couple of gory highlights include mayhem like face ripping, an exploding head, sledgehammer bludgeoning, head crushing, and more!
 
I am not bullshiting by saying that I love Haunt! As someone who is very, very picky with slasher movies, I can honestly recommend this one wholeheartedly. It is without question one of the best movies of that kind of the last few years. It also easily tramples over similarly plotted or styled movies like the aforementioned Hell Fest and Escape Room. The flick is violent and intense with a simple but well done story that will keep you involved from beginning to its fucking awesome ending. Add some really creepy villains and a great final girl, and you have a bloody good winner. As an added bonus it takes place on Halloween, so now you have a new, destined be classic to add to your yearly October viewings. Haunt begins streaming on Shudder, this Thursday, October 24, 2019.


4 out of 4

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