Horror Movie Review: Haunt (2019)

Haunt is a 2019 American slasher film written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. It stars Katie Stevens, Will Brittain, and Lauryn McClain.

On Halloween night in Carbondale, Illinois, roommates Harper and Bailey attend a party together where they meet with their friends Angela and Mallory. The group befriends two guys, Nathan and Evan. Throughout the night, Harper suspects she is being stalked by a man in a devil mask. The group encounters a haunted house attraction. Before they enter, they are forced to surrender their phones and sign liability waivers. The group becomes separated after entering a maze; Bailey, Nathan and Angela encounter a series of armholes. As Bailey sticks her arm inside, it is slashed with a straight razor. Harper and Evan lose Mallory. They meet back up with the others and witnesses a performer in a witch mask impale Mallory through the head with a hot fire poker.

Now believing they are in danger, the group sends Nathan to find an exit. He encounters a man in a ghost mask, “Mitch”, who agrees to help. Devil Mask kills Angela. Bailey flees into the tunnels and accidentally activates the trap door, dropping Nathan into the house’s operation rooms. He saves Harper from Devil Mask before finding the group’s phones. Evan and Mitch make it outside, but Mitch kills him with a hammer before ripping off his face.

Can the rest of the gang escape or are they all doomed? Watch and find out.

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Haunt is a straight up slasher, no twists, which I enjoyed. Too many movies these days have a complicated swerve to shock the audience which in turn makes watching a bunch of psychos just kill for the pure enjoyment of killing a shock in itself. There’s nothing deeper at play here, it’s not the ex-boyfriend or a scorned best friend. It’s just a bunch of guys who wanna murder you for fun.

I liked the design of the killers, although I’m sure the heavily modified community were not happy about it. The entire haunted fun house looked fantastic. It was so detailed and the ideas behind the rooms were cool. They incorporated everything well.

I enjoyed the subtlety at the beginning. You’re not sure if perhaps they’re being over the top and it’s just a haunted house. You feel the doubt the characters feel. But then, there’s a definite point of no return where it’s certainly gone too far. The movie presents a scenario that’s interesting to envision yourself in. You can imagine what you would do. The characters make a few silly decisions but overall they do their best. It’s a very stressful situation and they survive the best they can.

The gore is great, felt reminiscent of Hostel or Saw. Nice and nasty and realistic. There’s a bunch of brutality but not too much, it doesn’t venture into torture porn. It’s just straight up, quick murder. Everyone acts well but the characters are a bit one dimensional. I understand they’re generally fodder but even our protagonist is weak. All we learn about her is some vague trauma and abuse she’s suffered.

On the topic of our main character, she’s an issue I have with the movie. At this point, a final girl is just so predictable. If someone is presented to be that much of a victim in a film, you know they’re going to end up fucking up the bad guys and clawing their way to the finish line somehow. She definitely is too overpowered and doesn’t react to her injuries nearly enough. It’s probably time to mix that shit up in 2021. At least she wasn’t sexualized. There’s no romance or any insinuation of romance in this film, which is refreshing. Although the ending is a little silly and contrived, it was still cool to witness.

Overall, a solid slasher flick with a satisfying ending. I’m not sure the acoustic version of Dragula is going to stand the test of time though.

  • The Final Score - 7/10
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