Directed by Vincenzo Natali
This inventively structured and very Elm Street-esque horror movie is one of the few haunted-house pictures told from the point of view of the ghosts. Abigail Breslin and her mom, dad and little brother are stuck in a groundhog's-Sunday, trapped in a house surrounded by dense fog on the eve of her 16th birthday, and she's the only one among them who notices that every day it's macaroni n' cheese for lunch and meatloaf for dinner, followed by the same episode of Murder She Wrote. (It's the 80s.) They're a bunch of Pac-Mans, the script says, stuck in a maze and impervious to death—because they're dead.
But there are fates worse than death, a visiting stranger threatens; pitter patter in the attic and small changes in her family's routine lead us out of this paranormal adolescent drama and into a serial-killer mystery, the story of a malevolent supernatural force who won't just kill you body but also imprison your soul. Figuring out the cycle of violence repeated at her address, Breslin crosses between spiritual dimensions and tries to haunt the girl living in her house in the present day to save that family from the fate that befell hers: patriarch, possessed by an evil spirit, murders his family.
You know! Like Insidious Chapter 2; both films abdicate some moral responsibility by putting their familicidal fathers under the influence of evil spirits, a Catholic fantasy of demonology to explain the evil that men do. But unlike James Wan's scarier movie, Haunter's heroes don't just have to stamp out their villain: they have to confront past traumas and come to terms with it in order to escape the film's clever version of hell: suburban adolescence ad infinitum, stuck at home with parents who're ostensibly pretending to be oblivious to all the terrible things in the world.
Opens October 18