Haunt
Two Stars (out of five)
2013. Released by MPI Home Video. Running time 85 minutes. Rated R for scary scenes. Equipped with subtitles for the deaf. Special features on the DVD include a commentary, behind the scenes documentaries, and the trailer. This was reviewed on DVD on June 18, 2014.

Ask the ghost if it knows Elvis.... As its name implies, Haunt deals with a haunted house, and the nice young family that moves into it. Despite the horrible fate of the Morellos, the previous family that lived there, the Ashers are determined to make a new life for themselves in the country house that they bought. Who cares if all the children, along with the father, from the previous family all died horrific deaths right there in the house? Actually itís Evan Asher (Harrison Gilbertson), the lone boy in the family, who deals with the ghosts--but only after getting a girlfriend.

Hard to get a wink of sleep with all this chain rattling! Sam (short for Samantha) is a local girl whom Evan meets while out for a walk in the creepy woods that surround the house one night. Played by the operatic sounding Liana Liberato, Sam is being raised by a drunken father who beats her. Sam claims to have a special connection with the house that Evan lives in, and sheís the one who initiates contact with the restless spirits via an old radio they find in the attic. As expected, the ghost they contact is really peeved, and thus begins the mystery into finding out what it wants and how they can help it.

Hey, I played an ass-kicking elf in another movie, so just say the word and I'll kick this ghost's butt! But not really. Iím not sure if the filmmakers were trying to go for a different type of film and got lost, but Haunt very quickly loses its way pretty early in the game. The mystery of what exactly happened to the Morello family soon gets shoved to the side as the film wallows in Samís angst--which wouldnít be a bad thing if the script was better written, and if the entire movie didnít hinge on the lackluster performances of its two teen leads. Evanís family are largely ignored, which is a shame, because they're all decent actors in need of some solid direction, including Danielle Chuchran, who's so good in the enjoyable Curse Of The Dragon Slayer.

Excuse me, but can you give me directions to get to a better movie? There are plenty of annoying moments when it looks like things are going to pick up, only to be wasted. For example, it becomes clear in an alarming moment that Evanís younger sister Anita (Ella Harris) is seriously possessed by a supernatural force--yet this development is oddly ignored in favor of more Twilight-like soap opera scenes between Evan and Sam, and things just got to the point here where I didnít really care what happened to anybody. Jackie Weaver, from Animal Kingdom, is also wasted as the sole survivor of the previous family. If youíre suffering from insomnia and need a good sleep aid, this flick will be great for you; otherwise, avoid it. --SF

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