Friday, 28 October 2016

A Haunting in Salem (2011)

A Haunting in Salem continues the "slightly better than the last one" pattern of the first two films from this quartet.  And it turns out that comparing this movie to The Amityville Horror is pretty apropos, because they have strikingly similar scripts.  Both feature a house that was once associated with killings; both have a family moving into said house; both families have a father who is suffering from PTSD; both families are plagued by a supernatural menace.

Fortunately for this film, it is executed better on pretty much every front.  For instance, the script actually mentions that the dad has PTSD, rather than just having him act like a crazy person - and his behaviour is much less over the top and nutty.  The film also eschews the whole 'found footage' thing, which is a good call, not least because it means we don't have to put up with all the "corrupted video" nonsense the last two films used so much..

Then there's the cast.  The four actors cast as the family are all solid, particularly Bill Oberst Jr, who plays the dad.  The supporting actors are a bit more uneven, but they're not actively distracting at least.

Of course, we're still talking about a cheapie horror film that was filmed in a brisk 12 day shoot.  Artistry is bound to give way to efficiency in such circumstances, particularly when you consider the film was shot in Native 3D.  The direction is functional but humdrum, kind of the IKEA furniture of film-making.  The script also doesn't really manage to change gears well as it escalates the supernatural shenanigans.  For instance, there's quite a nicely creepy scene early on, involving a shower drain.  It works because it is quite low key.  Later, when we get to much more overt "ooga booga!" type stuff, the sense of creepiness actually dissipates.

So yeah, this is not good enough that I would actively recommend it, but it is still easily the best movie of this set so far.  Hopefully the last film (which is actually the movie I bought the pack to get) will be better again.

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