Haunt follows a group of friends decide to enter a mysterious haunted house establishment in the middle of nowhere. Once it becomes clear that the scares have turned deadly (go figure), they must try to find a way to escape with their lives.
It's difficult to comprehend why I loved this movie so much. It encompasses a great deal of criticisms I would normally deem weak. It's terribly unoriginal for a majority of its runtime, right through to the incredibly generic title. The characters are standard cookie-cutter figures (sans the lead's decent subplot) and the haunted-house-turned-murder-house synopsis is not only familiar, it's been recently beat to death in the past 5 years or so. Yet, I can't help but find this movie to be one of the best horror movies of the year so far.
Haunt manages to build suspense in a pretty effective way through its faith in its atmosphere and gradual build. Despite weak characters and a predictable setting, the film manages to engage me somehow...And it's difficult to pinpoint why. I do love the lead's subplot, but the rest of the characters are mostly disposable, as is the case with most films of a similar ilk.
The villains are a lot of fun. I loved the semi-variety of them, especially as they slowly reveal themselves. They aren't particularly unique in their motif, with a bit of a Collector-type vibe, but, again I'm inexplicably fascinated with their designs and brief moments of personality.
The violence is a slow build, but the last half hour amps it up in a way you didn't see coming. You're lulled into a false sense of "teen scream" security through the first hour, but then everything goes nuts. It makes the effective tension-building all worth it with a great payoff. It's currently on Shudder, but I was close to purchasing it on Vudu's Halloween sale, despite Haunt's sale not being much of one.
It's mostly just a fun slasher-esque film with a tinge of substance behind its lead. It reminds one of the progression of the girl from Split in a way, but with a bit more self-reliance. I won't recommend it as an arthouse gem or even an original twist on any subgenre, but it manages to achieve a very entertaining experience that I will be recommending to lots of people come Halloween night.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 9/10 Horror Quality: 6/10 Film Quality: 6/10