“Haunt”: That Can’t Be for Reals!

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On Halloween night, a gang of friends go in search of live entertainment and encounter an “extreme” haunted house, that turns out to be far too terrifyingly real.

So it’s the scariest night of the year, and sorority sister Harper (Katie Stevens) just isn’t feeling it, especially since her latest fight with her alcoholic boyfriend Sam (Samuel Hunt). But the need for escape is strong and the insistence of sorority sisters is stronger, so Harper gets hauled away by Angela (Shazi Raja), Bailey (Lauryn Alison McClain) and Mallory (Schuyler Helford) to some pretty standard Halloween party.

(L-R) Schuyler Helford as Mallory, Lauryn Alisa McClain as Bailey, Andrew Caldwell as Evan, Will Brittain as Nathan, Shazi Raja as Angela, and Katie Stevens as Harper in the horror / thriller HAUNT, a Momentum Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Momentum Pictures.

The gang is joined at the party by former baseball jock Nathan (Will Brittain) and his foul-mouthed friend but well-meaning friend Evan (Andrew Caldwell), who convince the gal gang to ditch the come-on jerkwads at the party and go “extreme” haunted house hunting instead. A strange series of incidents end up leading them to a house that advertises making their nightmares come true, and actually manages to deliver on that quite a bit.

An image from the horror / thriller HAUNT, a Momentum Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Momentum Pictures.

There is the silent Clown (Justin Marxen) who insists all the gang sign NDAs before going inside, the Witch (Terri Partyka) who has a far too healthy like for flaming-hot pokers, the Vampire (Justin Rose) who looks like an interesting version of Darth Maul but with a terrifying penchant for real masks, and the helpful friendly neighborhood psychotic Ghost (Chaney Morrow) to contend with, in this house of real horrors. Will Harper and her friends survive the night?

The movie relies heavily on makeup and practical FX, to pretty believable effect. The horribly real faces under the masks for all the bad guys are nicely twisted and nasty, sweaty and raw. All the tricks and traps of the haunted house have echoes of other great horror romps, particularly the Saw franchise, and does up the homemade and entirely effective feel quite well. The actors give their all to make you feel every prick, slice, jab, and other horror-ific thing the Clown and his cohorts subject the gang to, and it shows. Much of the engineering done in the haunted house could be done by anyone, and that in itself is terrifying.

Katie Stevens as Harper in the horror/thriller, “HAUNT,” a Momentum Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Momentum Pictures.

The ending suffers a bit from what is now a horror movie trope, and while I won’t spoil it, I will say did seem a bit rushed. Perhaps it was intentional, so as to leave the movie open for a sequel!