Director Andrew C. Erin brings an interesting concept mixing the genres of horror and mystery together that brings the real serial killer H.H. Holmes back to life, well in the style of his relatives using his trick to kill the unworthy. Often films like this have thriller elements but the mystery qualities echo through more precise. In addition Erin, experienced writer of Embrace of the Vampire (2013) the remake of the 1995 film of the same name and then also Sam’s Lake, this time gets assistance from Daniel Farrands, all to achieve distribution from Brainstorm Media.
The movie tries to pull many horror fans by champion the horror star veteran Danielle Harris (has over 35-horror films, most noted for Halloween 4 (1988)); sad to spoil it she’s not in the film very long, as it begins with a double-murder. It centers on Julie Benz (Saw V (2008) taking charge lead role of Jackie, staying in an apartment building, in New City for those morally challenged individuals each trying to cope to maintain a healthy and positive life from addictions to drugs or alcohol, or risk a judgement of the watchers.
Jackie, a recovering alcoholic, finally gets out of rehab and with the help of her friend and detective Tim (Josh Stamberg), begins to rebuild her life and yet discovers a strange world in which Danielle vanished. Building not own houses the addicts, killers, and cockroaches but other sinister issues hide in the walls, floors and ceiling all waiting for the ones that slip and can’t maintain their morality. Jackie becomes suspicious of her landlords as she finds clippings of him, in a secret room, clearly learning his blood still flows through some of his clan members and Jackie must fight them. She does find one person to confide in, Sarah (Belle Shouse) a young girl who does a wonderful performance, keeping secrets and knowing great things gets satisfaction. The serial killer Holmes lives on through some of the film’s main characters, using his blueprint of his building with trap doors, secret panels and rooms all giving access to the rooms of the people living in them. His story gives the example of how killers become monsters inflicted and unleashed onto society, beaten by his father and tormented by his peers. In fact, his picture hangs in the lobby, only something the astute fans of true crime and horror discover the first time watching it. One the tenants passes out from drunken reckless rage, only to slip beneath the floorboards into a torture room, dissected while alive and enjoys an acid face bath, ideally a minor gory trip.
Minor characters suffer a lot, and even fewer characters ever have any courage, and perhaps the intent of the writers, people, which find themselves trapped in their own lives, prisoners of their own making, in their minds, and suffering with no strength to resist the deadly fates. The unsung heroes of the film come from the stunt performers, as anyone knows in or on the subject of horror or actually any genre the hardest job, creating new gaffs for the scenes, and especially the torture of throwing about and set afire frequently. An interesting travel of this film from production to released, it started on April 28 to May 31 in 2014 and finally released on May 14, 2016 at the Cannes Film Festival, a two-year dry-dock for a film. As for the production as a whole, nothing exactly bad, rather more of status quo, it moves along at fair pace, but at times feels borderline tiresome, the interactions and the police play a second fiddle which often happens in the horror cinema.
While Havenhurst contains many horror elements and tries for some early moments of torture-porn, it switches gears quickly and reverts to a mystery story, with thrilling chase sequences. Many audiences experienced in these whodunits likely to recognize other films similar the vein chosen herein, and the missed opportunities, which occur clearly, entertaining, but a basic movie, with human monsters in all sizes and not just paranormal apparitions.
This review was originally published in June 2017 on Rogue Cinema’s now defunct website with a view count of 1,612.
IMDb Rating: 4.9/10