Haunt opens interestingly enough: a man emotional over the deaths of his children tries to contact them through an antique EVP radio and things go awry when he turns the dial and hears their voices. Their voices aren’t the only that he hears. Something is comes through the open connection and the man dies as a result. This gives way to a narrated montage explaining the tragedy that befell his family in that house, known as the “Morello curse.” Only the mother(played by Jacki Weaver) survives and she moves out, leaving the large creepy house open for our protagonist, Evan, and his family to move in.
As Evan and his older and younger sisters explore their new house, their images are juxtaposed with the corpses of the previous tenants as they move past the spots where they died. First sign this movie was going to disappoint, as this came across more clumsy and forced than atmospheric. Evan claims the large attic space as his bedroom, and the deliberate camera shots of the small door in the corner and moving floorboard really rub your face in the foreshadowing.
Restless one night, Evan takes a walk in the woods and comes across a girl his age crying alone in the path. Naturally, they hit it off immediately, and Sam spends the rest of the movie attached to Evan as she’s hiding from her abusive father. She’s very familiar with Evan’s house, claiming to have spent a lot of time in the house before, and I admit I wondered if she was a ghost. Her behavior was a little strange for a normal girl. She somehow knows about the antique EVP radio left behind in the small attic room and talks Evan into using it to make contact with spirits. Contact is made, much to Evan’s surprise, and he shuts the radio off. Only the ghosts aren’t ready to cease communication and the haunting escalates.
Haunt is a competently made film, but it’s like so many haunted house flicks before it. Some of the jump scares work, but so many fall flat because you’ve seen the exact same ones duplicated before. When Evan peers through the partially opened door of his younger sister, curious who she is talking to, I bet you can guess what happens next. The designs of the ghosts are well done, and not all scares fall flat. Some of the visuals are effectively creepy.
The actors all do a fine job, and the dialogue is more intelligent than you’d expect for a horror film featuring teens as the leads. Evan and Sam actually make logical choices. Jacki Weaver packs a lot of punch into her smaller supporting role.
As typical and generic as most of the film felt, I admit the ending was not what I expected. The mystery is wrapped up rather abruptly, though, and I was left wishing there was a little more explanation. Some plot threads felt under utilized and pointless, but overall the narrative was interesting enough.
An enjoyable haunted house flick with decent scares lead by a likable cast, just don’t expect anything new.