Scott Beck and Bryan Woods’ horror film is like one big Halloween treat that comes at just the right time. It’s a novelty, it’s occasionally silly, but it’s also extra creepy in that it takes much of its menace from the inherent dangers of Halloween that lurk in every corner of the holiday. “Haunt” isn’t particularly original, but when you get down to the meat and potatoes, it’s surely a lot of fun and garners shockingly empathetic protagonists, all of whom are never let off the hook from the moment they enter the danger of this enigmatic haunt.
On Halloween Harper (Katie Stevens) is trying to break free from an abusive, alcoholic boyfriend. While partying she lets herself be persuaded into going out, by her best friends Bailey (Lauryn McClain), housemates Angela (Shazi Raja) and Mallory (Schuyler Helford). Tagging along is nice-guy Nathan (Will Brittain), and his somewhat overbearing pal Evan (Andrew Caldwell). The six wind up looking for a haunted house amusement and cross paths with a warehouse-turned-extreme haunt off a lonely country road. Nervously agreeing to venture in to the attraction they gradually realize the terror is all too real, and might spell doom for them.
“Haunt” is so much like every other horror movie based on a haunted attraction I’ve seen, but that’s kind of why I love it so much. It’s firmly placed in that sub-sub genre of Halloween horror movies that can be enjoyed and appreciated for its ambitious ideas, and absolutely creepy villains. Beck and Woods just all out embrace everything good and creepy about the holiday, even building a group of absolutely mysterious horror villains. Their methods as well as their reasoning for stalking these characters are a constant cause of curiosity.
But that’s never given enough thought, since the characters spend all their time trying to escape and make it back home in tact. I very much enjoyed the characters we follow, even Andrew Caldwell who, while meant to be loud and obnoxious, has good intentions and contributes as much as he can in escaping this death trap. There isn’t a single unlikable character, and Katie Stevens manages to carry the film’s constant twists, jump scares, and surprise reveals successfully. If there’s anything that hobbles “Haunt” it’s the whys that will definitely come up. Why did only this group of people find the haunt?
Why did the psychos make sure to rig the whole warehouse except for the giant backyard and chain link fence? Why did they make a point of calling Harper’s abusive boyfriend and then destroy their phones? How long had the haunt been there? How many people came and went before that night? Why did they wear masks if they were horrific enough? Why did Harper wait for the clown in the finale rather than call police to stake out the place? How long did she wait for him? Two days? Two months? What if he never came to finish her off as he promised? In either case, despite its holes in logic, “Haunt” is never boring. It’s weird, its creepy, it’s grotesque, and it garners a clear love for Halloween.
The Blu-Ray includes an Introduction with the Filmmakers, and an audio Commentary with Writers/Directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, both of whom go over every aspect of production, along with some fun stories. There’s an audio Commentary with Actors Justin Marxen (Clown), Chaney Morrow (Ghost), and Damian Maffei (Devil), the film’s villains. The Making of Haunt is a thirty two minutes informative, excellent segment that includes interviews with the cast and crew, the work done by the special effects team, as well as the composers.
There are thirteen minutes of deleted scenes, a brief five minutes look at Behind the Scenes, a four minutes look at the Sound of Haunt, which involves Skywalker Sound. The twenty one minutes Popcorn Frights Q&A, includes Beck and Woods, along with some of the cast, discussing the film following a screening. There’s the twenty five minutes Egyptian theater Premiere Q&A with producer/moderator Eli Roth talking with Beck and Woods, following a screening of the film. The ten minutes Director’s Diary is a series of clips taken from social media posts and more, documenting the film’s production. Finally, there’s the bonus Short Film: The Sleepover by Beck and Woods, who provide an intro before showing their very early film made by them as teenagers. It’s “terrible,” like they say, but fun and features some interesting outtakes during the closing credits.
Available on Standard Blu-Ray and Special Edition 2 Disc Collector’s Blu-Ray Courtesy of Ronin Flix.