ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Haunter (2013)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Vincenzo Natali

Starring:
Abigail Breslin/Lisa
Stephen McHattie/Pale Man
David Hewlett/Olivia's Father
Eleanor Zichy/olivia
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Sixteen years old Lisa (Abigail Bresbin) finds herself trapped in a house reliving the same day…until…
THE LOWDOWN
I have yet to WORSHIP a Vincenzo Natali film, his 1997 debut CUBE came close but the bad acting somewhat got in the way of that. With that, I’m always excited to see one of his films, I find the dude bold in terms of the stories he tackles and his dynamic visual style totally appeals to me. So when I heard that he had a haunted house movie named HAUNTER coming out, I had to seek it out, worse case scenario, I would get something fresh to chew on, best case, I’d have a new masterpiece on my claws. Now I am in a tizzy that I went into this movie blind, I didn’t even watch the trailer (which is filled with spoilers btw - avoid) and I will do my best, as always, to do the same for you all, be as vague as I can so you also get the most of the experience.

HAUNTER is somewhat of a return to CUBE territory for Natali. Although there are no Sci-Fi elements at play, the core idea is the same, someone trapped in one place with a puzzle to solve, and much like with CUBE, we are tagging along for the ride. In the case of HAUNTER, the flick slyly put me in the protagonist’s shoes, and I along with her, was striving to figure out what the f*ck was going on. That made for a stimulating sit down. That one brain cell was working it baby! What first came off as Groundhog Day type spiel (which felt familiar being that I recently watched the Supernatural episode Mystery Spot which is about the same thing) eventually broadened its reach, gradually pealed off its countless layers to eventually reveal quite the ambitious effort. High five and hit to screenwriter Brian King for his packed screenplay that easily could have crumbled under its own weight. There were a lot ideas/themes/plot-lines tossed my way and, I managed to make sense of them all. Granted sometimes it wasn’t obvious, but that’s good shit, I like being challenged! So props!

The performances were on the money too. Young Abigail Bresbin did an admirable job of carrying the film on her shoulders. She was strong and vulnerable all at the same time and her big brown eyes communicated those emotions well. Natali knew it too, as he was ALL ABOUT close ups of them eyes. The supporting played were solid as well. Saw VI (2009) veteran Peter Outerbridge made an impact as the Father, David Hewlett was at his intense best (and he now looks like Quentin Tarantino), Eleanor Zichy was ideal for Olivia (I felt for her) and Stephen McHattie was simply chilling brilliance as the entity solely known as The Pale Man (I would have called him The Chain Smoking man but I digress). Tag to all that an effortless pace, Natali making good use of its totally out there premise to go buck nuts on the zany and surreal visuals, an appropriately dread filled atmosphere and enough twist and turns to keep me on the edge of my edge and you get a fresh horror film that granted, contained all kinds of elements from other films, but that tossed them around so wildly that all of it came off as fairly novel none the less.

Any drawbacks? I guess my main complaint was that the film, for all of its attempts to scare me, didn’t generate much suspense and just wasn’t very frightening. It almost came off as one of them Young Adults horror movies and for a veteran such as myself, I need a bit more edge to rattle my cage. So yeah its fairly soft approach to its happenings lessened the crushing back-hand it could’ve had. Funny, because Natali usually goes for the throat in his movies, here, he was wearing kid’s gloves. I guess he wanted to make a different kind of picture than he usually does. All good. And that was pretty much it, I can’t think of anything else, ask me tomorrow!

Overall though, I suggest that you give Haunter a tap as it’s definitely worth at least one watch! The creativeness in terms of its content and how it was conveyed by way of its ear/retina greasing aesthetics pretty much made up for its lack of bite. And the fine acting sold the whole shebang! Get haunted by Haunter! All I got today! Can you do better? ;)
GORE
Horrible scenarios were implied and we did get decomposing bodies, but gore was not this one’s game.
T & A
Nope! Not that kind of horror movie. I was nude when I watched it though, does that count?
BOTTOM LINE
HAUNTED gave me a familiar yet enticing set-up (somebody’s stuck in a loop) and then went on to defy my noggin as its story unfolded and went EVERYWHERE while managing to make sense. It also wowed my senses via the stylized way Natali told his tale and the acting by all was great! Abigail Bresbin needs to be singled out as she carried the picture with gusto and it has to be spat that the great Stephen McHattie made for a gnarly and gleefully evil villain. Yes the film wasn’t too scary and was a bit too soft for my liking, but I still had a slick sit down with it. This is actually an ideal horror movie to show your 13 year old kid – ya know wash that Twilight fifth off them with some genre class! Do it!
BULL'S EYE
The film will get a limited theatrical release on October 18, 2013.

The film was shot in Toronto, Canada.

Vincenzo Natali was a storyboard artist on Ginger Snaps (2000)
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