A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Haunt is a horror movie about a group of college students who decide to visit an "extreme" haunted house on Halloween. Expect graphic violence and gore: Characters are attacked with hot pokers, pitchforks, protruding nails, flesh-tearing glue, and more. There's also strangling, punching, stabbing, fighting, guns and shooting, and deaths. Discussions and flashbacks deal with abusive relationships (men abusing women). Language is also extremely strong, with frequent uses of "f--k," "s--t," and many other words. Characters drink shots in a bar, and one character is referred to as an alcoholic. The movie recalls the worst parts of 1980s slasher movies, with poorly drawn characters, jump scares, and an unsettling penchant for violence against women. Katie Stevens stars.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In HAUNT, it's Halloween night, and Harper (Katie Stevens) -- who just had a fight with her boyfriend -- is encouraged by her friends to go out for a night of fun. She joins Bailey (Lauryn Alisa McClain), Angela (Shazi Raja), and Mallory (Schuyler Helford) at a bar, where they meet jock Nathan (Will Brittain) and loudmouth Evan (Andrew Caldwell). Afterward, the six decide to go to an "extreme" haunted house for fun. But things turn dark quickly as they see what appears to be a young woman being tortured. When the friends become separated and Mallory disappears, it becomes clear that there's more than just harmless fun going on. But what will it take to escape the sinister attraction?
Is it any good?
The promise of a fun, Halloween-set haunted house movie is quickly dashed by a batch of weak, thinly drawn characters, poor decisions, and a preoccupation with torture. Haunt is more Saw than scary. Written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods -- who originally wrote the clever, terrifying A Quiet Place -- Haunt has more in common with the cruel, ugly works of its producer, Eli Roth (Hostel, etc.). It tries to be a throwback to 1980s slasher films but succeeds only in copying the bad parts of those movies, with jump scares and brutality, mainly toward women. Plus, the characters are annoying and don't seem like they'd actually be friends.
Only one, Harper, has any kind of backstory, and it's based in abuse. The others are paper thin, and the dull, cultlike batch of killers is far less interesting than a single villain would have been. The movie fails to use its Halloween setting for anything fun (unlike the strikingly similar 1980s cult classic Night of the Demons), and even the haunted house set feels chintzy. Ultimately, it's not the house, but the characters' own poor judgment that gets them into trouble. You'd do better to check out the comparable but much better Hell Fest, with its horror-carnival setting and far more interesting characters.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of horror movies?
What does the movie have to say about the subject of abuse? How can it be dealt with?
How is revenge depicted? Is it portrayed as a good thing or a bad thing? Do you agree?
How are the movie's female characters treated? What message does that send?
- In theaters: September 13, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: October 15, 2019
- Cast: Will Brittain, Katie Stevens, Lauryn Alisa McClain
- Directors: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
- Studio: Momentum Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: horror violence/gore, and language throughout
- Last updated: October 25, 2019
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