Friday, January 27, 2017

Havenhurst (2017)








DIRECTOR: Andrew C. Erin

WRITERS:

Andrew C. Erin
Daniel Farrands

CAST:

Julie Benz
Danielle Harris
Fionnula Flanagan
Matt Lasky
Josh Stamberg
Belle Shouse
Douglas Tait
Dendrie Taylor
Toby Huss
Jennifer Blanc-Biehn

PLOT:

Jackie is a recovering alcoholic. She recently lost her daughter when she chose to get behind the wheel of a car and drove while under the influence. Her addiction cost her, her only daughter's life. Her close friend Danielle who is also a recovering addict has recently relapsed disappears without a trace. Jackie moves into her old apartment in an apartment complex known as Havenhurst which helps recovering addicts. So the only rule is that if you relapse while in Havenhurst, you'll be evicted. Jackie will soon realise that being evicted may cost her, her life.







Looking at the poster for Havenhurst, I was under the impression that I was about to watch a very cheap, low-budget, supernatural horror movie about a haunted asylum. The name of the film screams haunted mental institution. I hadn't watched the trailer or heard anything about it before sitting down to watch it. I thought the budget would probably match what the marketing team have spent on the poster. This is where that great old saying comes into play. You should never judge a book by its cover. Because I was completely wrong on this one.

As the opening credits began to roll for Havenhurst. I noticed that the studio behind the film was Twisted Pictures. They are responsible for the entire SAW series. They are also responsible for releasing Repo! The Genetic Opera, Texas Chainsaw 3D and the brilliant remake of Mother's Day. So I was already eating my words at this point. Then came the title of tomandandy who were doing the score for the film. I own both The Rules Of Attraction and The Hills Have Eyes remake soundtracks which they were responsible for. I was now very excited, and the movie hadn't even started yet.

Once the movie starts, it opens with Danielle Harris. An icon of horror and one of the greatest scream queens of this generation. She is doing drugs, her boyfriend is killed in extremely bloody fashion, and she goes out in a Drew Barrymore 'Scream' styled opening. I thought she was going to be around for the entire running time, but she barely gets more than three minutes of screen time. It's quite the shocking opening scene. I've probably hyped it up a little too much. It's not overly gory or violent, but I expected to see her on screen for a lot longer.

The movie then introduces us to the great Julie Benz. She plays Jackie, a recovering addict and a woman who is suffering because her addiction cost her own daughters life. She knows she is the reason why her daughter is dead. She is a character that I was immediately rooting for. She is also a sensible woman. She seems to contact the police every time something goes wrong and does things any rational person in peril would do. I also liked that she seemed tough. Her grief seemed to have given her strength and served her well.

Havenhurst felt like a mixture of The Toolbox Murders meets The Collection. The only difference is that the residents of this building are all recovering addicts and they pay with their lives if they end up relapsing. I think the killer taking out all the residents in the apartment block felt very Toolbox Murders in the way the complex is wired up. It also felt sort of like The Collection with touches of SAW. I think the way the residents were being dispatched felt hit and miss. As the film progressed, they get gorier and more enjoyable but early on it just seemed a little light on the viscera.

The most enjoyable moment of the film is the twist in the third act. Yesterday, I had reviewed the captive horror film, All I Need. I had mentioned how I enjoyed the little twist on the Elizabeth Bathory story. This will be a [SPOILER]: Here we have another movie that injects an old serial killer twist into the story that I didn't personally see it coming. I also enjoyed this little twist. They connect the film to the H.H. Holmes case which was one of the first ever documented serial killers. He built a maze-like hotel so he could kill and torture people in it and they would never find a way out or be found. I thought this played nicely at the end of the movie.

What didn't work for me was there are moments and characters that are just there to be killed. They are there to add a body count. This means that we really don't care for a lot of these victims. As recovering addicts, we should have some understanding and even compassion for these people when they relapse, but we don't. We also don't get much in the way of a backstory for Fionnula Flanagan's character. She plays a tenant who signs all leases and is secretly an evil old bitch. I think I would've liked to see a connection to H.H. Holmes. The movie ends on a dark note that I felt it didn't need. We also have this final little reveal that I saw coming from a mile away, and I pretty much rolled my eyes.

When it comes to the scares and suspense in Havenhurst, I thought the movie had a couple of incredibly creepy moments. There is an extremely solid jump scare early on that made me jump out of my seat. It's so cleverly constructed and timed that I just didn't expect it, so when it happens, it was pretty darn effective. The movie has a few chase scenes that were a lot of fun. I think once we get into the walls of the complex, things got more fun. The movie isn't overly suspenseful, but it's a fun ride.

Lastly, the acting needs a mention. I have seen Fionnula Flanagan in two movies quite recently. First I watched her in Trash Fire and now Havenhurst. She plays a wicked old lady who is evil but has a class about her in both of the films, and she is terrific. Here, Danielle Harris is in a blink, and you'll miss it opening scene but does a lot with a little and Julie Benz is our central star here and I dig her as an actress. There is this scene towards the end between her and Fionnula that I thought was gonna turn into a scrag fight but it never entirely goes to that place. All the actresses are excellent in their respective roles.







DEATH TOLL: 5

BLOOD AND GORE:

- Someone slips over in a pool of blood.
- A man is seen dead on the floor with his eyes removed.
- Someone is dragged up into an elevator shaft.
- A woman is kicked down a hole to her death.
- Someone is stabbed in the hand with scissors.
- Fingers are chopped off.
- A man is shown ripped in half and still alive.
- Intestines are pulled out of someone's stomach.
- A woman's face is splashed with acid.
- A child is seen in a burning car.









Havenhurst surprised me. I went into this movie thinking I was going to absolutely hate it. It turns out that I had a half decent time with the film. The movie is far from perfect. It has a lot of issues but what I did enjoy was the little twist in the third act, all the actresses deliver excellent performances, we have a few very surprising jump scares and some solid gore. I could think of a lot worse ways to spend a swift eighty-four minutes.


2 comments:

  1. I'll need to rewatch this on a night I can have the volume up loud enough to hear dialogue and not constantly being interrupted but from what I did see, I liked.

    I was hoping Danielle Harris would be in it for longer alongside Julie Benz, they totally SCREAM'd us haha. Julie Benz carries the film so well by herself. Have loved all her work (she was also in a Saw film) (Love Danielle Harris' work too).

    Once Julie's character stares at the H.H picture upon moving into the building, I had an inkling they were either going to say that's the original murder building or connect it somehow. They do connect Fionnula Flanagan's character back to H H Holmes by her character's name and a few articles Julie Benz finds when she unlocks the secret doorway.

    The only problem I had with it was why the hell an Engineer from PROMETHEUS was the other 'boy' and killing people...I suppose they explained that? Thus a rewatch is definitely in order.

    Great review :)

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    1. Did you jump when Julie Benz walks out of the elevator and the girl goes passed on the skateboard? The was an effective jump scare.

      Oh I didn't notice the connection to H.H. Holmes and Fionnula Flanagan's character. My bad. Probably shouldn't review and watch movies at the same time it seems.

      No I don't think they ever explained the Engineer guy. Which is another negative that you bring up.

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