Review: Scott Beck & Bryan Woods’ “HAUNT”

Why is this movie being down-played so much? Sure, it’s arriving in select theaters, on demand and on digital starting September 13th 2019, but I think it’s deserving of a wider release in cinemas. HAUNT is one of the few movies that depicts a setting around Halloween and actually succeeds in creating that atmosphere in a palpable way. HAUNT is the type of movie that needs to be in theaters all throughout our favorite time of the year. Come on, people. Don’t sleep on this blood-soaked adventure from Sierra Pictures and Nickel City Pictures. Written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods of A Quiet Place fame, HAUNT tells the story of a group of friends who visit an extreme haunted house location on Halloween night. What promises to be a night of conquering their fears turns into an evening of terror as the attractions turn deadly and the the friends realize the monsters and murders before them are real. Katie Stevens, Will Brittain, Lauryn Alisa McClain, Andrew Caldwell, Shazi Raja, Schuyler Helford, Phillip Johnson Richardson, Damian Maffei, Chaney Morrow, Justin Marxen, Terri Partyka and Justin Rose star in this chilling thrill-ride from iconic producer Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel).

HAUNT can be best described as Escape Room meets The House October Built. It’s a phenomenal combination of a growing Halloween tradition and an old school slasher flick. The atmosphere is on point, the suspense is sky high, the kills are brutal and the cast is seasoned beyond their years, but I found myself most appreciating each room in the haunted house walk-through. Every time a character steps into a new room, a new torture chamber as it seemed, it literally feels like you’re watching a different movie. This is bolstered by (spoiler alert) the fact that there are several killers in the attraction, dressed in unique costumes. Watching HAUNT is like watching an anthology flick or a series of short sequels, because you get a ton of various settings and killers in the span of one feature length film. It was a genius idea by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, and it’s one that is sure to keep audiences on their toes and interested from start to finish. HAUNT is a stand-out winner based on production value alone, and still it has so much more to offer.

Including a weird out of body experience like Inception. When you realize you’re watching people watching people being watched by people, it rattles your brain a little bit and gives HAUNT a strange depth I haven’t felt before. I guess I could most likely describe it as voyeurism because you’re watching private moments of people who don’t even know what they’re looking at. HAUNT also contains a real-feel level of claustrophobia. Most of the rooms in the attraction are somewhat spacious, but the characters are still trapped with no way out. And when they have to crawl through a tunnel or reach a dead end, you’ll feel that sinking notion of desperation with them. I didn’t expect HAUNT to invoke any emotions out of me besides “yay horror film,” but it ended up being a showstopper that stabbed all five of my senses. Literally, I could smell the frickin’ haunt’s floors and a metallic essence from my side of the computer screen. Before I move on, let me not forget to mention that HAUNT has visible homages to famous horror films like Halloween and Scream; at least that’s what I interpreted them as.

HAUNT delivers on all the goods that horror fans will be looking for. Chase scenes, suspense, brutal traps and the clever survivor girl. HAUNT was produced by Todd Garner, Mark Fasano, Vishal Rungta, Ankur Rungta and Eli Roth. It features cinematography by Ryan Samul, production design by Austin Gorg and editing by Terel Gibson. It’s a much more divergent, grotesque and delightfully scary title than any film you’ll find in its category. I’m still upset HAUNT isn’t seeing a wider theatrical release because I truly feel it could be one of the bigger releases of this Halloween season. With the combined talent before and behind the camera, it captures the spirit of Halloween, spins it on its head and then unleashes those vibes right onto the screen. To be honest, HAUNT is one of the better produced Eli Roth movies to come out in recent years and I’m definitely a fan of this title. HAUNT is a never ending nightmare of carnage and heart stopping moments, and you should add it to your movie viewing list when it releases on September 13th 2019.

Final Score: 9 out of 10. 

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)