Review: Haunter

Copyright: IFC Midnight
I love dream sequences. In some way, dreams were the original proto-movies, and we as a species probably started making films in our head long before even paintings existed. Haunter uses the dream space as the main setting for the plot and the action starts from the beginning.

A young teenager named Lisa lives with her parents and a small brother in a big family house. She wears a dark Siouxsie and the Banshees t-shirt and looks gloomy. The rest of her family, however, looks perfectly content in their everyday, mundane activities. It soon revealed that Lisa is the only one who understands that they are living the same day over and over.

In the opening sequence, Haunter makes the viewer jump right into Lisa’s terrifying world. Her surroundings are menacing but don’t pose a direct or imminent danger. Her parents seem distant and somehow detached, but don’t act crazy or deranged. She doesn’t see any alternative and soon starts to investigate how and why are they stuck in this weird limbo.

Abigail Breslin is really solid on all fronts as Lisa. Her character never becomes irrational, but also doesn’t fully embrace her warped condition. Breslin is equally present and engaging both as a detective and a sacred girl. This isn’t odd – her house, as well as her family members, can turn to pure horror without warning.

Vincenzo Natali directed the movie almost flawlessly, using the most from the temporal and spatial dislocation phenomena that Lisa experiences. He also did a great job with the special effects and the way he merged them with the sets. This is probably the result of his rich work experience. Since the early nineties he was often employed in the film industry as a worker in the art department. It’s obvious that his knowledge in this field added a lot to the visual style that he employed in this film. Like many horrors that don’t go for gore and violence, a distinct visual feel is really important.

The only major problem for me in this film is the resolution and the last sequence. Simply put, I found it too similar to The Lovely Bones. To be hones, many details in the story point toward this film (or the book), but the ending just drove this point further. Because of the clear similarities, I feel like Haunter had to make a bigger effort to distinguish itself from this much more famous movie about dead girls.

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