I love horror movies. I love my subscription to Shudder. I love Halloween. However, in recent years, I can’t say that I haven’t been drawn to the realm of “elevated horror” more and more. The term “elevated horror” in and of itself is bullshit by somehow placing different horror films on a separate pedestal for resembling more of a drama film with horror elements. Films like Hereditary, Midsommar, The Lodge, Relic, etc. have all been wondrously crafted dark horror films with an arthouse twist to them, but sometimes you really just need a good old fashioned nasty gore-fest of a horror movie. I’m ashamed to say that simplicity of horror is what initially disinterested me in Haunt, as my cinephile ego got in the way of my excitement for a film like this. Written and directed by the writing team behind A Quiet Place, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, Haunt is an exceedingly simple slasher film that uses less-than-simple methods of making it feel fresh and new.
And in this new age of media, everyone’s niche is getting filled, with Ronin Flix releasing Haunt on Blu-ray in a standard and collector’s edition Blu-ray release. This is not a film you would expect to garner a release as fleshed out as this is, but it’s one you give thanks that someone out there appreciates a film like this as much as hardcore fans do. The standard Blu-ray was provided for review and includes all of the same on-disc special features as the Collector’s Edition, which includes four mini-posters, a map of the haunt house, six enamel pins, four magnets, and a CD copy of the musical score by tomandandy.
Haunt follows a group of college kids visiting an extreme haunted house attraction in the middle of nowhere. The group soon finds that the cast within the haunted house is out for actual blood. Halloween films don’t get much simpler than this, but Beck and Woods imbue the film with such creativity in the creation of the haunted house and antagonists, that the cliché setup of the film soon goes out the window when the rowdy, gory fun begins. The characters are smart enough to create clever and exciting moments of conflict with the killers, but are also just dumb enough to do stupid things that rack up the body count. This is a golden balance to strike in a slasher film, and Haunt hits it with an almost cocky ease (which is a compliment, I swear).
Haunt is not a perfect horror film, but it is genuinely a perfect Halloween movie. I could practically smell the fake blood and freshly molded plastic from Party City wafting through my television in the classically campy, but still legitimately scary, air that Halloween night brings about. This is the type of film you gather around the TV for in the dark on Halloween night with your friends and some drinks and enjoy yelling at the screen and scaring each other.
And there are legitimate scares to be had here. While the film takes a campier, simple approach to the first act, simply looking to exude the cheap thrills that come from a haunted house, as we go along with the characters, the stakes rise as does the terror. Losing its cheap thrills in exchange for visceral, gory, and tense moments of terror, Haunt displays Beck and Woods’s abilities to find a unique and chilling endpoint for a film that seems so empty on the surface.
The 1080p Blu-ray transfer and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack are polished, but nothing groundbreaking by any means. The real star of Haunt’s Blu-ray release is its lovingly crafted special features, which are chock full of gems for fans of horror filmmaking including two separate commentaries from writers/directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods which also include actors Justin Marxen, Chaney Morrow, and Damian Maffei who played the Clown, Ghost, and Devil killer roles respectively. Also included is a wonderfully in-depth behind-the-scenes documentary The Making of HAUNT, with interviews from nearly the entire creative team from behind and in front of the camera about the making of the film. There are also the mini-featurettes Behind the Haunt and The Sound of Haunt, the short film The Sleepover, an introduction to the film by Beck and Woods, deleted scenes, a Popcorn Frights Q&A, and a theatrical trailer. Everything with the film’s supplements harkens back to the golden age of DVDs when every film had just as much behind-the-scenes content on the making of the film as content in the film itself, whatever the size. With the age of streaming eliminating most supplements entirely, this release from Ronin Flix is an absolute beauty to behold.
Haunt is a slasher film for the true horror lover. It has a simple setup that explodes into a bloodbath of thrilling creativity. It’s a rowdy and gory good time made for the Halloween season, and Ronin Flix has put together two impressive Blu-ray releases for fans and super fans of the underrated horror gem. The standard edition Blu-ray includes all the same special features as the collector’s edition Blu-ray on the disc, but the collector’s edition is pure truth in advertising, providing big fans of the film access to many physical pieces of memorabilia you truly won’t find elsewhere. Don’t be fooled by every studio advertising their bare-bones Blu-rays as “deluxe” or “collector’s” editions. Ronin Flix has come to show they are the real deal with this wonderfully packed and pleasant unexpected release of Haunt.
Haunt Blu-ray Special Features (Standard and Collector’s Edition)
- Audio Commentary with Actors Justin Marxen (Clown), Chaney Morrow (Ghost), and Damien Maffei (Devil)
- Audio Commentary with writers/directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods
- The Making of HAUNT – Featuring interviews with writers/directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, actors Katie Stevens, Andrew Caldwell, Lauryn Alisa McClain, Will Brittain, Schuyler Helford, Justin Marxen, Chaney Morrow, special makeup effects artist Chris Bridges, and co-composer Andy Milburn (tomandandy)
- Behind the Haunt
- The Sound of Haunt
- Deleted scenes
- Popcorn Frights Q&A
- Short film: The Sleepover
- Introduction with the filmmakers
- Theatrical trailer
Haunt Collector’s Edition Exclusive Special Features
- Original CD soundtrack by tomandandy
- Four 16” x 20” mini-posters
- 16” x 20” map of the Haunt
- Six enamel pins
- Four 2” x 3.5” VHS-box replica magnets
- Exclusive Blu-ray packaging
Available on Blu-ray on October 22nd, 2020.
Head to the Ronin Flix website to track down your own copy of Haunt.