The screenwriters Scott Beck and Bryan Woods wrote the script for Haunt (2019) while also writing the screenplay for A Quiet Place (2018), which received overwhelming audience approval, and critical acclaims, however Haunt doesn’t exactly achieve that hype. The film, didn’t visit theaters on a nationwide release, but achieved production from Sierra/Affinity and distribution on DVD/ VOD by Momentum Pictures. One needs to mention that this film is not a remake of the 2014 movie by director Mac Carter called Haunt involving a haunted house.

Films about haunted house attractions are nothing new, in fact there are over 140 of these types of movies, Haunt deploys many of the clichés found in them, as if they watched many of them and used everything as inspiration for their torture-porn light version. Often when horror audiences need a fix of these stories, the settings aid in the story, from Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) from director Michael Curtiz to the recent exploits of The Houses October Built (2014), Hell House LLC (2015), House of Purgatory (2016), last year’s surprise hit Hell Fest (2018) to Extremity (2018) that explores the extreme haunt.

The overall concept of the film begins from a weak standpoint, it’s Halloween and everyone knows that these attractions have either lengthy lines that last into wee hours of the morning, pushing the crew and cast to their max breaking point. Some of the more extreme or even glamor-stylization take reservations, but walking up to an abandoned parking lot and vacant building just spells problems for the film and viewers. If this was intentional then fill the parking lot with crew and cast cars, giving the appearance of activity, but no vehicle issues the vibe of rottenness. On Halloween, Harper (Katie Stevens (Polaroid [2019])) has to put makeup over a bruised eye by her abusive red herring boyfriend, her roommate Bailey (Lauryn Alisa McClain) encourages her to come out for the evening where she meets Nathan (Will Brittain). Soon enough they arrange to venture to an extreme haunt along with semi-comedy guy Evan (Andrew Caldwell (Scary or Die [2012])) as well as two others as zombie nurse (Shazi Raja) and a flapper (Schuyler Helford). Once the six of them enter the haunt, which is operated by an equal number of masked murderers, editing issues compromise the pace to ramp up to the necessary level, one point, the six divide, into two groups of three, this works very badly it destroys all the tension and suspense. Telling any more likely give away too much more to overall concept and plot.

There’s plenty wrong with this feature but one of the worst is actually cool and regards the actors at the haunt who are into extreme body-modifications, that goes beyond piercings, tattoos, rather involving scarification, and completely bizarre looks, but the film encourages them to where masks – WHY? Even someone escape and they told authorities he looks like the devil (Damian Maffei (Monsterland 2 [2019])), in fact his character looked like Belial mythology imagery. Actually, we never learn why the killing is occurring, a minor insight helps as they use all sorts devices, from Escape Room (2019) tactics to killing methods. The killers are a Ghost, Clown, Witch, Zombie and Vampire, it simply uses the countless others movies in this subgenre as a basis to offer mundane frights as well as plenty of red-herrings to viewers. Our famed screenwriters, omitted a few key elements, first why does the group attend the place, especially after one suffered abuse from a boyfriend, why are the scares so lame, they follow the formulas used in slashers and haunted house attractions to the letter. In addition, the verbiage that’s used sounds either very unnatural or just unsure how millennials in college speak to each other, who are concerned with uber rides and cellphones. Yes, the production values and set design looks nice, and leans toward the torture-porn it never gets the classic level found in Saw or Hostel, lastly the music works nicely into the film thanks to the efforts of Tomandandy.

Writers of horror always set a challenging bar to pass, for both themselves and the viewers but it’s the audience that one must please, give them pleasure and scares, embrace the genre the good and bad, one comical line breaks tensions, but rallies them for another scare. However, if one avoids these elements, rather going for common set-pieces then it’s a disservice to everyone, looking at The Houses October Built 2 (2017) shows how to handle the haunted house or just Hell House, it works to lure the watcher to a false sense of safety, before unleashing hell upon them. Simply Haunt sets itself in the haunted house attraction realm, exploits the slasher genre, set in abandon warehouse with no real ghosts rather human form with no rhyme or reason to the killing. Now you’ll need ask yourself is it’s worth your time to enjoy the basic horror film.

IMDb Rating: 6.4/10

Baron Rating: 5.5/10