Friday, February 21, 2014

Haunter Blu-Ray Review

 Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Abigail Breslin (Ender’s Game, Zombieland) starts in Haunter, a unique take on the traditional haunted house story from director Vincenzo Natali (Splice, Cube).  In 1986, teenager Lisa (Breslin) and her family died in their home under sinister circumstances.  Unable to move on, their spirits continued to roam the house during the intervening years.  Now, over a period of six days, Lisa must reach out from beyond the grave to help her living counterpart Olivia avoid the same fate that Lisa and her family suffered long ago.  Uniquely unsettling and shocking, Haunter is a one-of-a-kind reverse ghost story that chills long after the final frame.

Film (3 ½ out of 5 stars)
15-year-old Lisa is living the same day over and over again.  It’s the day before her birthday, and every day she wakes up, she has the same conversations, eats the same meals and watches the same shows.  Until one day, she begins to become aware of her surroundings.  Lisa and her family are dead, but stuck in the same time loop and unable to move on.
As Lisa becomes more aware, she realizes that the family living in her house has many similarities to her family.  Lisa goes through her days trying to figure out what happened to her family and how to save the family that now lives in her home.  As Lisa moves through her normally repeating day, small things start changing – her mother wants to read a book instead of watching television; her brother wants something different to eat; her father finally figures out what is wrong with the car he’s been trying to fix. 
When Lisa finds a locked door she never noticed in the basement, the clues start coming together and Lisa finally finds a way to communicate with Olivia, the girl who now lives in her bedroom.  Together, they figure out what happened to Lisa, her family and why bad things happen in that house.
I really enjoyed this movie.  It reminded me of a cross between Groundhog Day and The Others, but much, much different.  I say that because Lisa and her family live the same day over and over again and they are dead.  Abigail Breslin certainly has grown up.  She did a great job as a scared teenager, who also was a typical teenager when relating to her parents.  Haunter was a creepy movie that made me jump a couple of times.  The story was really interesting and I was sufficiently creeped out.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
Haunter is presented in anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1.  The colors are good and the muted, homey lighting in the house really take you back to the 1980s.  Outside the house, the fog-filled neighborhood is grey and gloomy and quite realistic.  The shadows in the darker scenes were sharp and blended well with the rest of the darkness.  When in the present, the use of bright colors and white really distinguished the scenes from the ones taking place in the 80s, and the lighting was bright and inviting.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
Haunter is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with Spanish and English SDH subtitles available.  Also available is English 2.0 PCM Lossless.  The sound was really good.  The background noises weren’t overwhelming and I didn’t need to adjust the volume for especially quiet or loud moments.  Everything came together and the creepiness of the music and background made the movie all that much better.
Special Features (3 out of 5 stars)
While there weren’t a ton of special features, what was included was pretty interesting.
  • Behind the Scenes – A look behind the scenes of Haunter and chats with cast and crew.
  • Haunter – The Complete Storyboards by Vincenzo Natali – All the notes by the director with creepy background music.  Interesting, but after a couple minutes, I was bored.
  • Teaser Poster – That’s it.  A photograph of a bottle of chloroform.
  • Trailer – The official trailer for Haunter.
  • Under the “audio” tab:
  • Commentary with Director Vincenzo Natali – The ability to watch the movie with the director’s commentary.
  • Commentary with Writer Brian King – The ability to watch the movie with the writer’s commentary.
Final thoughts (3 ½ out of 5 stars)

I really enjoyed this movie.  I liked that it was a ghost story Groundhog Day.  Abigail Breslin certainly has grown up and is becoming a great actress.  I look forward to seeing much more of her in the future.  The movie kept me engaged and entertained and a little creeped out.  It’s a good thing I watched this during the day because if it had been dark and foggy, I probably would have slept with the lights on.
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