It’s finally October! Even for those who watch horror year-round, there’s something special about the month of Halloween, so we at 1428 Elm want to help you pick great Halloween films.
Today’s movie selection is the Shudder Exclusive Haunt, which hit the horror streaming platform in 2019. It had premiered at Popcorn Frights Film Festival before receiving its international premiere at Fright Fest in London two weeks later.
There are several horror films currently available that deal with Halloween haunted attractions gone wrong, so it would be easy for Haunt to get lost in the shuffle, despite the fact that it was co-produced by Eli Roth. But, Haunt is genuinely surprising and unsettling, with a great acting performance by Katie Stevens as Harper.
Let’s face it, Halloween haunt attractions are kind of dicey at times. You don’t know whether the people running it are sadists, or if they are doing it all in good fun. Most local haunts seem relatively harmless, but extreme haunts, such as McKamey Manor don’t feel especially safe, right? So, they are the perfect setting for horror films.
College student Harper is trying to escape an abusive relationship, and lets herself be persuaded to go out with some friends to attend a costume party. They decide to seek out a Halloween haunt attraction, and are joined by two guys they met at the party.
They find a remote haunt set up in a warehouse, and despite the fact that they are required to sign a waiver and turn over their cellphones, the group is excited about experiencing the haunt. Almost immediately after entering, the friends are separated, and one of them is seriously injured.
Throughout the film, Harper is receiving angry texts from her boyfriend, and as the friends try to escape the haunt, they encounter several of the costumed “actors.” Their actions and threats make it very clear that something is horribly wrong.
The cinematography in Haunt is perfect, and the interior shots of the attraction are vivid and eye catching. You definitely get the claustrophobic feeling of being stuck in what is essentially a horror-themed maze, being pursued by masked people who are trying to harm you.
While all of this is going on, Harper is beset by childhood memories of her abusive father. While facing the very real dangers of her present, brought about by people dressed as demons, she is also facing the demons of her past. In a lesser film, this subtext could be heavy-handed, but Haunt’s genuinely chilling moments and Katie Stevens’s performance balance out the themes.
Do you immerse yourself in horror movies during the month of October? Which movies do you recommend for the Halloween season? Give us your choices in the comments section.