SXSW FILM 2013
By Dave Campbell | March 15, 2013
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Writer: Matthew Brian King
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Stephen McHattie, Peter Outerbridge, Michelle Nolden, David Hewlett
It’s only one day until Lisa Johnson’s sweet-sixteen in 1985, but she will never see that day come. Lisa and her family died on this day and will forever “relive” it in a repetitive, endless loop. Lisa begins to notice flaws in their Purgatory and has “awaken” from the catatonia of the spiral to the presence of a girl that is trying to make contact with her from the other side.
Lisa soon discovers that she herself is the ghost, and that Olivia who currently lives in the house is reaching out for help. Lisa boldly goes into the dark recesses of this dark haunted dwelling and gets thrust into the history of the house and the person behind the sinister cycle that is about to repeat itself. It is here where she also learns how her and her family met their own bitter end.
With bold originals like Cube and Splice, it’s obvious early on that Haunter is lacking the signature uniqueness that made everyone take notice of Vincenzo Natali‘s previous work. The only saving grace that makes this film palatable is the leading performance by Abigail Breslin. She carries this damn thing on her back with lackluster assist from the supporting cast that are nowhere near her caliber. However, the true blame of this dismal effort lies with the writing and direction. Matthew Brian King’s premise is tired and old-hat, with Vincenzo Natali’s safe and stale direction book-ended to match.
Unfortunately, Haunter was my biggest disappointment of SXSW Film 2013. There really isn’t anything more generic than another haunted house story. Even if you try to flip it and tell it in reverse, if the same played out elements are retained, substantive originality goes to the grave.