How Stupid? – #04 – Haunt (2019)

Haunt opens to Harper (Katie Stevens) covering a bruise on her eye that we later find out is from her boyfriend, Sam (Samuel Hunt). She’s ignoring his messages, which are getting more violent, before Bailey (Lauryn Alisa McClain) walks in and tells her to finish him. Harper says no and they both brush off, along with student-nurse Mallory (Schuyler Helford), who points out the bruise (despite it being covered). Why is everyone so nonchalant about physical abuse in a relationship? They’re getting a #Stupid for their behaviour. Also, it’s later revealed Mallory has 46 cousins. It matters not one bit on the plot, but a weird inclusion.

Anyway, it’s Halloween and Harper is dragged to a nightclub with Bailey, Mallory and Angela (Shazi Raja) where they meet Nathan (Will Brittain), who is holding a baseball bat in a nightclub as part of his attire, and Evan (Andrew Lewis Caldwell). Evan, by the way, is dressed as the victim from The Human Centipede (his buddies failed to show for them to have the full three-person effect). For even thinking a costume from that film is appropriate: #Stupid.

They take off (Harper thinks she sees something) and drive down a dark road. A car seems to be following them, which only Harper spots, but when she points it out it disappears. They pull over and wait for it to appear, all not believing Harper (although the driver should have noticed the car’s lights . . . in the dead of night I can’t help noticing cars behind me), and a sign flashes advertising a haunted house. Now, I normally forgive characters for putting themselves in situations whereby they are at the mercy of killers, but not these six. Firstly, it’s the dead of night. Secondly, that sign only switched on when you parked up (after being followed, let’s not forget). Thirdly, it has very few reviews on the Internet when they search. Fourthly, it’s in the middle of nowhere. Fifthly, the clown on the front door acts creepy as Hell. Sixthly, they’re told to leave their phones outside. They ignore a lot of warning signs to be let into this haunted house (the clown on the front door doesn’t even speak to them to give them warnings, they just read a few things on a sheet of paper). #Stupid. This right here is where you nope the f- out of this film.

Anyway, reason aside, we’re in the haunted house, now. Spooky things pop out, scary noises ring around; it’s all paint-by-numbers. Until they stop by a glass window with a witch behind it who murders a girl. The girl screams for her life, but everyone believes (as you probably would) that it’s part of the act. (Spoiler: it’s not.)

The next junction presents two options: Safe and Not Safe. Because of Scooby Doo logic, they all split up. Harper, who is shown to be afraid of being here and who has a dark history, goes in the Not Safe room. Makes sense.

They borrow from I’m A Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here in the next few scenes (on one side each of them has to put their hand through holes to identify the body part on the other side; one of which holds grapes which Nathan eats. Why, Nathan?)

On the other side they have to go into erect coffins (Harper also doesn’t like confined spaces) for a door to open on the other side. Then a small tunnel, more worries for Harper. I’m so glad she’s clearly surviving this film.

While Bailey’s arm is inside the hole trying to recover a ring she dropped, someone slices at her.

The others carry on their journey, but Mallory disappears. Harper and Evan reunite with the others, after ignoring an emergency exit door, who are sat as far away from the door as possible, before screaming to not close it. If it’s so important they don’t close the door, maybe sit closer to it. #Stupid.

They see Mallory murdered and all start to freak out and plan various escapes. Well, the boys do; the girls are busy talking about Harper’s past. Is now the time? I get it’s sad your father beat your mother but be weary of where you are. Probably not the best story to tell. Evan suggests the blokes go searching for weapons, but ever the hero, Nathan goes alone. Why, Nathan? He puts the key between his fingers as a weapon, but one spook later and he drops it into a gutter. Why, Nathan? Anyway, he finds someone (still wearing their mask) who seems concerned that they’re hurt. He addresses himself as Mitch and uses his keys to open various doors. But, instead of going forwards, they opt to go backwards through the house. Despite offering nothing but help, they still doubt Mitch and make their feelings quite clear. Although their friend has just been murdered, so I suppose a little animosity towards the company is understandable.

In a twist everyone saw coming, Mitch betrays them. In the crawlspace, which Mitch warned only one can enter, Nathan is locked in, but falls through the trap door when Bailey enters (running away from another assailant).

Nathan wakes up (obviously Mallory landed more painfully than Nathan as she was out cold). Meanwhile, Evan, who went first before Mitch, made it outside only to find their phones missing. Mitch follows out, cut away, return to scene: Evan’s dead. Evan was a good few metres away and is a bigger lad; it would have been nice to see their fight. But, nope. Mitch uses the claw side of the hammer and rips Evan’s face off.

Their phones have been taken away in a weird scene. One of the villains tries to unlock their phone (and even answers a call), before microwaving the phones of the deceased. Not the living (we need them for later).

Harper and Angela hide, and Harper snaps the key (she took from Mitch) in the lock, preventing it from being unlocked. #Clever. It doesn’t work (there’s a second entrance), but it’s a clever thought. (A few scenes earlier, Harper unlocked that door as she heard noises, but didn’t open it; she just listened. Could have done that with the door locked.)

It was at this point where I noticed the lack of Bailey.

In the struggle, Angela dies with a rake through the head. Harper, while crawling away, slams her hands down in tar, and, in pulling them out, rips off her skin. They then lead Harper into a panic room-style room, where she has to follow clues to find the key to be set free. She also grabbed the door handle quite strongly. Isn’t the lack of skin on your hands hurting, Harper?

Incidentally, she cannot read the following sign. I know it’s backwards, but is it that difficult to read? She uses a mirror to reflect it then reads it aloud for us dumb dumbs who can’t read short words backwards. One clue tells her to rummage through dolls, and she ignores the ones on the top (of course the paper’s in the one on the top), before the final clue tells to look under the bed. Harper is claustrophobic, remember (even if the film didn’t in certain scenes), so instead of looking, seeing a house and pulling it out, she gets all the way under the bed. Why? So she can be hidden away in the same position she was when her father hit her mother all those years ago. Hidden under the bed. Had she not been under the bed, though, she could have barricaded the door more to stop the guy coming in, or prepared yourself to attack. #Stupid.

She finds the key and stabs it in the attacker’s face and unlocks the door, behind which is a shotgun on a timer (thankfully Harper has the common sense to stand to the side of a door which is unlocking). The attacker gets the better of her, but she lifts his head just in time to be shot. #Clever. She understood the timer and the music, arched his face to be in range, that’s quick thinking when you’re being strangled.

At this point I had to pause the film and check whether I’d missed Bailey’s death.

Although, even if you do understand the timer, don’t stand directly in front of the gun. #Stupid.

Someone else tries attacking her but again, she uses the shotgun’s timer in a clever fashion (this time having the chainsaw-wielding villain snap off the end, so he’d be in the firing line. #Clever. She’s using their trick against them; I like that. Still not selling the effects of the tar ripping her hand’s skin, though.

Nathan, in his journey, managed to text an SOS to Sam (as well as their address), and fight off a few other assailants. Including Mitch. Sam, who was established as an abusive partner at the beginning, who begged for an apology throughout, arrives to save the day and is immediately killed. Thanks for coming, Sam. This confused me, though.

A masked figure creeps into the room where Harper was, but Harper attacks and kills it. You’ll never guess who it was? Bailey. Turns out, she was captured (somehow) ages ago, and forced to walk this journey. No mention of her intentions (what if Harper didn’t stab her to death?)

Nathan hammers a hole through the door, The Shining-style, and they both escape after one final tussle (involving slamming a witch’s head into a trap door). Oh, Nathan gets shot but still manages to kill one of them with a baseball bat. No-selling the effect of being shot in the stomach.

A jump scare happens, but we cut to Harper at the hospital. Everyone’s fine. The first girl we met and the guy she fancies both lived. Of course, they did. One of the clowns, though, finds out where Harper lives and goes to kill her, only to be fooled by the same tar and baseball bat death they used on both Harper (tar) and Sam (baseball bat). #Clever. She knew they’d come for her; fair play, Harper.

Oh, the reason for Sam’s whole story arc was to have his car available for them to escape in. Because the attackers broke their car. What a waste of time Sam was.

Now, let’s talk about those clowns.

Well, Clown (Justin Marxen), Ghost (Chaney Morrow), Witch (Terri Partyka), Vampire (Justin Rose), Devil (Damian (ha, nice) Maffei) and Zombie (Schuyler White), according to IMDB. They talk a lot about removing the masks of the victims (their face) and Evan even has his face ripped off. But there’s never a reason why given.

They open a haunted house to kill teenagers. That’s about as deep as their lore goes. I was expecting them to be deformed and wanting a new face or something, but nope: they evil. They just evil. Also, why would Mitch try and help them? He killed Evan as soon as they were alone, but he was alone with Nathan when they met.

They burned the haunted house down at the end, fearing the obvious police investigation, proving they’re human (why would a real ghost of witch fear the police?) They also have a random person working there (he bumps into the team and begs for mercy before being shot by one of the other workers). Why do they need help?

I get some villains are just evil; but these clowns and what-not must have a motive for doing what they’re doing that they don’t explain very well. Which was so disappointing in an otherwise entertaining film.

6/10: A Bunch of Dunces

Common Sense Award: Harper

Braindead Award: Evan (for that suit alone . . . and leading them there)

Quick Review:

Honestly, this film was quite fun. I can nit-pick at it until the cows come home, but it’s a haunted house movie killing kids; they always have holes. The acting is pretty decent, the kills look (for the most part) pretty decent. Even the characters aren’t completely stupid.

It takes a lot of disbelief suspension to get there (stopping at the exact moment a sign flashes, while they were looking for a haunted house) and the villains are so poorly written I couldn’t get behind their side at all. And while Harper’s storyline of her father’s abuse passed on to her boyfriends is fine, and flows quite nicely, Sam never gets his comeuppance by her (he just dies), her decision to get under the bed and her spewing exposition while they’re being attacked forced it to interrupt scenes with illogical decisions.

The pacing never let up (despite Harper’s history exposition), I just wish I cared more about why they were being killed or understood why they were there.

The Cast Leader: Katie Stevens

The Cast Loser: Shazi Raja

Personal: * * *     Acting: * * *     Writing: * *     Presentation: * *

Overall: * * ½

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