'The Final Haunting' introduces us to Lily (Pearl Chanda), an emotionally disturbed young woman plagued by nightmares that appear to depict some traumatic past experience. She seemingly has no family and her only friend is an elderly blind lady who used to work as a psychic and as we meet her she is advising Lily on how to keep out the evil spirits (dare I say demons?) that plague her dreams.
We’re then dragged into a bizarrely needless plot thread about her meeting Chris (Paris Wharton), a charmingly awkward young man who stumbles around trying to ask her out in the park. The two of them then proceed to clumsily dance around each other and eventually become a couple, but feel free to forget that as it’s basically pointless despite taking forever. I’ll come back to that.
More importantly, Lily is on a job hunt that is not going well until she spots an advert in an agency window for a babysitting job and she jumps at the chance. The job, it transpires, is in a big house in the middle of nowhere where a creepily overly attached mother, Samantha (Bella Heesom), and her frustrated husband, Tom (Josh Burdett), live their bleak unhappy lives. Tom practically drags Samantha out of the house but not before setting out the rules of the job, such as don’t go into the cellar and don’t touch the creepy painting hanging over the stairs, because he seems to be one of the few characters aware that they are in a horror ﬁlm.
First up I’m reluctant to get hung up on technical issues, abundant though they are here, when it comes to indie ﬁlms they can feel like an easy target and perhaps it’s unfair to judge these kinds of ﬁlms on the same level as the latest blockbuster. But to ignore it feels like a cop out and plenty of low budget movies manage to transcend their humble production values. Unfortunately this isn’t one of them and I found the glitches distracting, from the usual sound balance issues to pull focuses that last too long and a surprising number of background reveals that don’t actually reveal anything and yet linger anyway. And don’t try to pass these off as artistic choices, it’s a ﬁne line between artistic and messy and this ﬁlm leans closer to the latter. However you can get past these if you are less obsessive than I am so don’t take these as a damning of the ﬁlm, it’s just the surprisingly frequent feel of a ﬁlm feeling not quite ﬁnished.
All negativity aside the story of the haunting is very well constructed, the atmosphere is thick, the pacing is tense, the mystery is interesting and the scares are scary, which feels like the bare minimum requirement in a horror ﬁlm but you’d be surprised how many horrors fall at this ﬁrst hurdle. Unfortunately I’m still hung up on the sloppy opening and as I write this I feel it is a big problem because almost all of my negative points can be drawn back to this relatively minor area of the ﬁlm. I could comfortably cut out half of Chris’s appearance in the ﬁlm without losing anything and it would have been nice to have seen a little more of the couple who owned the house, as they add a nice level to the puzzle of what’s really happening.
See this review on The Fan Carpet.
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