2013 / Director. Vincenzo Natali.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Since making CUBE, CYPHER and NOTHING Vincenzo Natali has been amongst my favourite directors. I anticipate each new movie he makes with hopes that it will offer something original, fantastical and skewed. His previous film SPLICE was an ambitious film, entertaining enough, but it left a lot to be desired. All filmmakers are permitted the occasional misfire and so I sat back and anxiously awaited his next film... and here it is, HAUNTER. Hmmm... so lets just say that all filmmakers are permitted a couple of misfires. Boy is HAUNTER a misfire. It tells the story of a dead girl who is trapped inside her house, along with her family who are also dead. Her existence is on loop with each day repeating itself. For some reason she has awakened and is the only person aware that she is dead. When she makes contact with another person, the routine is suddenly altered. And so she begins to unravel mysteries about her death and secrets of the house she lives in. To say much more would reveal too much. I can see why Natali was attracted to this story. It flips the typical haunted house genre on its head and tells us a story from the other side. There is lot of potential for something special, however, Natali took the easy road and fails to deliver anything exceptional. In a recent interview he admitted to taking on the project because it was all set to go and all that was required of him was to shoot it (unlike SPLICE which took 12 years to make). That confession sheds a lot of light on HAUNTER... it's not really a Vincenzo Natali film. To me it felt like a scrap book of other movies. A bit of THE CONJURING here and a little NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET there. All of the cliches are milked and what begins as an original premise turns into nothing more than a convention. What it does have going for it is it's atmosphere. It's lit well, shot well and swiftly edited. The script is lousy but all of the performances are good enough to lift it. I will definitely return to watch it again to see if I was missing anything, but I won't be in a hurry.