My first thoughts when watching Haunter were how old it made me feel – lead actress Abigail Breslin (first seen in Signs) is now 17, and wasn’t even born until 3 years after the premiere of Groundhog Day which the opening recalls.
At the onset, Lisa (Breslin) seems like the stereotypical surly teenager in her prediction of the family routine, until it transpires that the prediction comes from living the same day over and over. But then little things seem to start changing, like washing missing from the machine or her father’s previously unseen smoking, and as well as the truth of her situation Lisa soon realises it goes beyond her family, and even her time…
The bulk of the film is set in 1985, and the attention to detail is lovely – it’s quite easy to get lost in a nostalgia kick for the days of Walkmen, Atari 2600s and Angela Lansbury – and Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice) adds some nice style to the visuals. Abigail Breslin shows she can carry a film too, and while the supporting cast is a bit mixed at times it’s not distracting. The script by Brian King (who worked with Natali on Cypher) keeps a solid pace with nods to the likes of Poltergeist, The Others and Stir of Echoes, though in the case of the latter while it did trigger a smile in usage Prokofiev gets trumped by the Rolling Stones every time I’m afraid!
Haunter is an effective thriller that has a refreshing sense of originality and slick visuals. It may not go down as either Natali or Breslin’s best ever, but it’s a good watch especially if in the mood for a Twilight-Zone-esque mystery. ***1/2