Just because it's the holiday season, it doesn't mean that people aren't up for a halfway decent scare. Sadly, "Haunter" doesn't manage that at all, as it brings some decent ideas to screen but puts little to no effort into putting it all together into a halfway decent story.
Lisa Johnson (Abigail Breslin) is one day shy of her sixteenth birthday. And she will be forever. She and her family are dead and doomed to repeat that fateful last day before they were all killed in 1985. Only Lisa has “woken up” and realizes what is going on. She starts to feel as if she is being haunted, but the “ghost” turns out to be Olivia, a very much alive girl who lives in the house in the present day with her own family. With her help, Lisa discovers that the house once belonged to a serial killer who kidnapped teenage girls and burned their remains in a hidden furnace room. When he died, he became a Haunter - a powerful, evil spirit able to possess the living.
A neat idea of a 'reverse ghost story' but "Haunter" puts so little effort into connecting any of the dots and even caring if what is going on makes any sense. As Vincenzo Natali's directorial follow up to "Splice" the film certainly looked great and captured a distinctly locked in feel with some excellent production design, but the actually narrative was just a flat out mess. Filled with countless logic jumps and things that just happen, the story makes broad assumptions forcing the audience to be scratching their head (and not in a good way) about every ten minutes. Logic, reasoning and even any kind of reasonable reveals to help move the story along were simply thrown out the window for huge plot holes and jumps in any kind of narrative logic or structure and the damn thing just never worked because we simply never cared.
Abigail Breslin is developing her game to the point where she can credibly carry a film based on performance. Sadly the material didn't give her a ton to work with and any of the other familiar faces in the ensemble like Stephen McHattie were criminally wasted.
At the end of the day, "Haunter" is just a bland, slapped together film that didn't put in nearly enough effort to make it as a passable effort and was just pretty darn lazy.
1 out of 5 stars.
"Haunter" is now open in theatres in a limited engagement in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary as well as being available via most UVOD platforms.