If home is where the horror is then Havenhurst DELIVERS!! Jackie (Julie Benz) is taking up a new residence, fresh out of rehab, Havenhurst is now her home. A monolith of a building, Havenhurst is grand in every aspect. The kind of building than would make a goth girl weak in the knees. Havenhurst is special, not just because of its dark rick wood and ornate scroll work, but also because the of the residents. You see Havenhurst is a safe haven for those in recovery, thanks to owner Eleanor (Fionnula Flanagan). As Eleanor says, stay good and you can stay forever...
Havenhurst is a film that made my inner horror geek giddy! I love this film, it is easily one of my fav films of the year so far. Every bit of this film works, and it has so much more to offer fans than it appears on the surface. Before we even get to the title credits there's already blood, tension and death to ensure we remain firmly planted in our seats for this bad girl! And the pace never lets up.
Andrew C Erin (Co Writer and director), whom many of you may recognize as, the name behind 'Sams' Lake' and 'Ice Twisters' (both fantastic in their own accord and I HIGHLY recommend 'Sams' Lake'), so it's no surprise to me that Havenhurst is so successful all around. Andrew has an eye for detail, both in his directing and his writing that comes through in the final work. He tells stories that transport the viewer, and increase his fan base with every film.
This brings me to my first point, and I give kudos to writers Andrew C Erin and Daniel Farrands for this bit of brilliance. Havenhurst is so much more than just another haunted house/house of horror films. It offers horror in multiple layers. There's the traditional scares from the obvious sources but there's also this seedy underbelly of humanity that exists within the tenets due to their various addictions that offers a very real and sometimes uncomfortable look at the kinds of horror we see daily. In doing this the writers (director) create a depth to the film and the characters that is entirely submersive to the viewer. It also keeps the films pace moving in a truly compelling way, that isn't based on an over abundance of jump scare, boobs, or other cheap theatrics. This story is much smarter than that, it incorporates not only this very real part of human existence but also some of the most macabre, interesting of Americas' serial killer history. It weaves all of this into the tale that is both well executed and makes the seemingly impossible plausible within the context of the story.
Upon first glance you can't help but notice the bevy of iconic names attached, from the producers to the cast. It's like a sexy siren call to fans, luring them in for popcorn and scares! Yesi Ramirez deserves a tip of the hat as casting director for this fantastic ensemble of talents. Leading off with Danielle Harris (Halloween-both franchises, Hatchet Trilogy ...) who plays Danielle Jackies friend and also one time resident of Havenhurst. Julie Benz (Dexter, Boondock Saints II) who plays recovering alcoholic Jackie whos' addiction led to her daughters death, and is now fighting the battle of her life within the walls of this house of horrors. Belle Shouse, a relative newcomer in comparison to her more seasoned veteran actresses but easily holds her own next to these powerful ladies. I'd go so far as to say Belle Shouse (Secrets and Lies), who was at the tender age of 13 while filming, is the heart of this film and she carries it even at the most emotionally demanding moments with an ease that is rarely seen in a child. Add in Fionnnula Flanagan (Lost, Defiance) as the very polished and powerful Eleanor, and Dendrie Taylor (True Blood, Sons of Anarchy) as Tammy and you quickly see this is a female driven film to be excited about!
I'm not trying to say this is a ground breaking film that's going to change how movies are made, it's not, but it doesn't need to be. Instead it is a fine example of what happens when you put together a strong team both cast and crew under the direction of an equally skilled director who knows and trusts his vision. There is nothing about this film that reads small budget indie. From the strong score that adds tension, to the cinematography that squeezes out every bit of creepy ambience in the setting, to the absolutely spectacular effects crafted by VGP Effects and Crafty Apes, which are never in excess but look superb when they come into play, this is a film that aims give the mainstream a run for their money and does just that! That being said this is a film genre fans need to get out and support, RENT IT, BUY IT, talk about it, and spread the word so we can look forward to more strong indie releases in the genre!