Okay, so things slip through the cracks every now & again. We make mistakes. Thank Satan for Netflix and Hulu, though! That gives us a chance to redeem ourselves. In this particular instance, ol’ Netflix wafted a pleasant stench in front of my nose in the form of a ghost story called Haunter.
Haunter is the story of a teenage girl named Lisa (played by Abigail Breslin) who, as a ghost, is reaching out to the living to save another young girl from suffering the same fate that she had. Lisa is dead. This much we know. The who or what that took her life and the circumstances surrounding that are a very windy staircase that leads to some scary places. But once navigated, Lisa may be able to help save the lives of many other young women to come.
The best description I can lay on you without giving away any spoilers would be this: Think of The Ring lying down with some of the loftier time travel concepts from Doctor Who and you’ve got a pretty solid base of operations, in terms of understanding where this movie is coming from. It’s definitely one you need to pay attention to as the narrative bounces back and forth between “the living” and the trapped souls of the dead. Those souls have a story to tell but those portals aren’t always open to travel through. So, there are tons of side doors that have to be accessed to help the narrative flesh out completely. Fortunately, you have some great performances from both Breslin and veteran character actor Stephen McHattie. McHattie (Watchmen, The Fountain, A History Of Violence, 300, and countless others) is billed here as The Pale Man. The Pale Man is as much a concept as he is a person. He embodies the fears and misery that wrecks the families that would dare live in a home where so many have died. He manifests himself in the form of their pain, of their regrets, of their shortcomings. The Pale Man breaks people down by tearing away at their foundation. He ends up being a pretty scary cat. McHattie is up for the challenge, as he takes every opportunity to sneer and chew on his stereotypical “bad guy” dialogue in a way that makes it all very fresh. He and Breslin square off as fitting rivals and take this ghost story into some really cool places simply by putting forth engaging performances.
Haunter was a surprisingly fun movie to watch. I’d definitely qualify this as a family friendly horror flick. I watched it with my seven year old son and we both enjoyed discussing what was going on at each turn. It kept him engrossed and after it was all said and done, we both classified Haunter as a ton of fun. I think you will, too. Haunter is available from IFC Midnight and is currently streaming on Netflix.