Netflix continues to deliver hidden gems which, for one reason or another, were “under released” when distributed initially; one such movie is the 2013 film Haunter, after watching this brilliant out-of-the-box movie I had to write a review…immediately. The film stars Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Zombieland), Stephen McHattie (Pontypool, 300) and a stellar supporting cast that includes some of Canada’s finest actors and actresses. You can watch the trailer below.
As Author Edwin F Becker points out, there were no Ghost Hunters a la TAPS in 1970. There was also no Amityville horror; at least not until 1977 when Jay Anson put pen to paper and wrote about the “alleged” ghostly problems of the Lutz family in the house where an entire family sans one was murdered.
It would not surprise me to learn that Jay Anson was not already aware of the ghostly events that plagued the Becker family via a NBC newscast that was aired both locally (where Becker and his wife lived) and nationally. Where else could he have gotten the idea? And where Anson, admittedly, stretched the truth to breaking and beyond in search of a fast buck; Becker did not profit one cent from his haunted house experience until years later when he self-published his story.
I’d bet a pretty penny myself to say that he’s not profiting much from the sales of his story; his e-book is very affordable.
In 1970, Becker and his new wife and baby, wanted to buy a house. Finding a two-story house with two ready-made apartments already under one roof, he thought he’d found a bargain. Sure the house needed work and they needed to get rid of the “crazy” woman who lived in the downstairs apartment, but Edwin was not afraid of hard work and the “crazy tenant” was on her way out.
So what could go wrong?
Becker recounts what happened when he and his young family moved into the house in the suburbs of 1970 Chicago and the traumatic affect the property had on friends and family. He tells of the Church’s refusal to get involved and of seeking help from two (the only two in the Yellow Pages) paranormal investigative societies available.
He tells his story in a straight forward, no-nonsense manner that convinces and disturbs and (for me anyway) made the hair on the back of my neck stand-up which resulted in my deciding to read the rest of the book in the daylight. What he does not do is embellish the events to “sell” his story. He steadfastly refused to sensationalize any of the occurrences that he and his family experienced. Hence the self publishing.
When he and his family encountered what, at the outset, seemed like odd events: a kitchen door that refused to stay shut, a mixer that refused to hang on the wall, a phone that kept taking itself off the hook and countless other things, that he found “logical” explanations for. Or so he thought.
As the haunting began to escalate, he and his wife (who to be fair, sensed this a lot earlier than her skeptic husband) realised that the house was haunted by not one, but several ghosts.
It was Mr Becker’s sincere and plain retelling that both convinced me of the truth of his story combined with “strange” experiences that I myself have encountered that sold me on the validity of his tale.
This is a very understated book when compared with Jay Anson’s nefarious tale of the Amityville “hauntings.” You’ll find no oozing black stuff pouring out of the sockets; no overabundance of flies; no voice telling anyone to, “Get Out!” and no pigs floating outside a second story window.
What you will find is a simply written(not in a negative sense) tale of growing fear and financial difficulties. Your heart will go out to his (then) young family and the fact that they had so few avenues of help. Before the modern “ghost busting” equipment of today and the digital revolution that enables ghost hunters to track down “spirits and demons” you had psychics and clairvoyants and the odd paranormal scientist. Oh and the clergy, if you could get them to acknowledge the problem. This was a time of real “hit and miss” ghost hunting and something that not many of the main populace knew about.
This was a great read and, as I said before, one that literally “creeped” me out. I will warn you, this is not a book for the overly imaginative. I slept with the light on after reading this book.
I’d give this a full 5 out of 5 stars for no-nonsense reporting of one family’s experience with a haunted house. Do not miss reading this book, it is a great story, even if you don’t believe in ghosts.
Every once in a while you find a film that for some reason has invited lots of vitriol to be heaped upon it. Uninhabited is one of those films. If you type the name into your Google search engine you’ll see what I mean. But, come on guys. Is it really that bad? I’ve reviewed much worse films than this one. It seems that a lot of folks don’t like the “based on true events” tag that the film used. But, if you search long enough (about 5 minutes, for me) you’ll find it is based on a “local” urban legend.
Written and directed by Bill Bennett, Uninhabited has a damned small cast. It features, at one point, four whole people on the screen at once. But for the record, there are only six actors in the entire film including Mr Bennett himself in a cameo at the beginning and end of the film.
The film starts with Beth and Harry being taken out to an island that is just one of many along the Great Barrier Reef. They are to be there for 10 days and it is a romantic little get away for them. They will be the only people on this small island.
Now the actors playing Beth and Harry are attractive young people, although, Henry James has a mole on his back the size of a small country that was really off-putting during a romantic sensual “roll-in-the-sand” clinch early in the film. Unfortunately, most folks that watched the film did not feel the two had much in the way of chemistry together.
I agree to a large extent, it did seem to be a case of opposites attracting, but, they didn’t entirely stink together. Their main problem was that they just did not come across as the sharpest tools in the shed; which was interesting as she was supposed to be a marine biologist. If he gave any indication as to what his occupation was, I did not hear it.
The plot is fairly straight forward. They go on this “deserted” island and find that it is haunted by a girl ghost. So far, so mundane; but, this ghostly girl is really pissed off. It seems that when she was alive she stepped on a “deadly” Rockfish (I don’t know how deadly these things are, but they are most certainly one of the ugliest species I’ve ever seen) and as she lay dying in agony, seven men raped her. Now she prowls the island killing unsuspecting people stupid enough to stay there.
The movie works okay, in the realms of creepy, Bennett pulls this off well with an eerie soundtrack (although as a lot of folks pointed out, it can be a bit irritating at times) and he makes use of the islands sounds to crank up the tension. Lots of rustling leaves, snapping twigs and far-off screams of the female variety all make for a gradual rise in the young couple’s fear factor.
They repeatedly search the island for what they assume are some pesky kids and find nothing. They eventually stumble upon an ancient shack that they have somehow managed to miss each and every time they explored the island before. They also discover a visitor’s log that they missed the first time they entered the cabin.
This log helpfully tells the story of Coral (the young girl in the legend) and explains the “grave” outside the shack. The two finally decide that they want off the island and go to get their satellite phone and it’s (gasp) missing. It all goes downhill from there. Harry decides that two foreign men who are shooting fish (?) in the ocean are the culprits and stupidly antagonizes them. The part that he seemed to disregard was the shooting of the fish; you do not antagonize men with guns.
It turns out quite badly for all concerned, but, the movie does not end there. My description of the plot does though as I don’t want to give the ending away. Although if you haven’t guessed the ending by this point in the film, you must have been sleeping through it.
A lot of complaints had to do with the clichéd nature of the film. I do have to agree a bit. There is a scene early on that might as well have had a sign that was in bright neon lights saying, “THIS WILL SHOW UP LATER IN THE FILM! ATTENTION: IMPORTANT PLOT POINT HERE!”
But really, apart from the fact that the two leads were hired apparently because they were attractive young people, the film was not that bad. I’ve seen and reviewed much worse. At least the film was not what my daughter Meg calls “horn” which is a standard mix of sex, senseless nudity, and horror. The body count is very low for a horror/ghost film and the gore is minimal. There is also not a trace of nudity, unless you count near nudity because of the swimsuits, and no sex.
The biggest complaints seem to come from the ‘true events’ tag (as I said earlier) but, guess what? It is. The young lady in question (Coral) was actually named Lola and she did die on an island and the “cabin” is actually in a museum somewhere in Australia. When Bennett heard the story, he wrote the screenplay.
I honestly believe that if you watch the film expecting a ghost story, which it is, and do not expect to see buckets of blood and entrails strewn across the screen, you’ll find it isn’t that bad. An easy 3.5 stars out of 5 just for the effective use of sound to build up the tension; trust me, (as I said at the beginning of this review) there are much worse films out there than this.