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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 02.12.14] horror thriller mystery

IFC Films released Vincenzo Natali's mind-bending Haunter on Blu-ray and DVD this week, so I gave it a second spin to try and wrap my head around why I love this film so much.

Billed as a "reverse ghost story," the hook of Haunter isn't so much a twist as a great conceptual idea to give us a fresh take on the haunted house genre; one where the story is told from the point of view of a teenage spirit (here, played by Abigail Breslin). When we are introduced to her, she is stuck in a mundane world where everyday plays out in the same routine, but nobody seems to notice it but her. Think groundhog day of the dead.

It's a compelling premise that right away begs many questions about the direction of the story, but it also accurately represents the plight of every teenager living in the suburbs. And actually, Haunter is very much a coming of age story as well. I won't give away the story from there, but suffice it to say there are many twists and mysteries ahead.

The big thing about Haunter is that it is manages to be more than just a horror film. It is surreal in a way that most horror movies aren't, and while listening to the commentary track by Natali I wasn't surprised to hear him say that this is what drew him to Brian King's script and that Alice in Wonderland actually looms large over his take on the material.

Oozing atmosphere, the film takes place in one location: An ominous house surrounded by an endless fog. But since the story takes place over multiple time frames, the setting never feels stale.

Haunter is yet another indie gem from Natali, who deserves to be brought into the big leagues and given a chance with Neuromancer. With High Rise recently snatched away from him and given to Ben Wheatly, I sincerely hope he gets that chance sooner than later.

Haunter. Check it out. You won't be disappointed.

Check out Haunter on IFC Midnight.

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chuc k (8 years ago) Reply

I saw this one last night. While I'm not a ghost story fan I thought this was an interesting approach to a tired genre. It reminded me somewhat of American Horror Story season 1, but more as a jumping off point than a rip-off. Thanks for the heads up.

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