What is it all about?
Jackie (Benz), a troubled young woman struggling with addiction, is released from rehab and given a second chance with a new job and a furnished apartment at Havenhurst. Guilt-ridden over the loss of her 8-year-old daughter, Jackie is quickly drawn into the mysteries of Havenhurst, in particular the disappearance of apartment 1006’s previous lost soul, a young woman (Harris) she befriended in rehab who vanished without a trace.
Aided by a hardened New York police detective (Stamberg) and a lonely foster child (Shouse) who lives under the sadistic shadow of her caretakers, Jackie must not only battle her inner demons… but the very real ones that live within the walls of Havenhurst.
Lets start off with the negative and yes I am going to talk about Danielle Harris.
When Bat (our HCF boss) sent me down this screener with the words “You are going to love this as it stars a certain actress”, then my horror juices were flowing. You see, I knew straight away what she meant. That this film stared a certain Scream Queen who I have an undying soft spot for. Roughly the same age, I watched Miss Harris way back in the late 80’s as she took over from Jamie Lee Curtis to become a target for her Uncle Michael Myers and was the best thing in not only the Halloween sequels, but of Rob Zombie’s two remakes as well!
Watching her as a potty mouthed kid in The Last Action Hero only made her stock go up in my eyes and since then she has carved a nice little career in the horror genre, becoming a sort of icon for fans everywhere. From Hatchet 2 to the underrated Blood Mary, there are films out there that show Harris at her best, sadly Havenhurst isn’t one of them. Why? Because if you going to hire Harris for a role much similar to Drew Barrymore in the original Scream, then you are going to annoy a lot of people.
If you don’t get what I mean, then you will once you sit down and watch the film. But damn you writers- damn you indeed! Its one of the reasons why I have no time for Urban Legend
Luckily another icon takes her place soon after and I am talking about Julie Benz – but wait! She has black hair! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! You see I have this theory that the colour of her hair judges the quality of material on offer. When its black she has starred in Punisher -War Zone and Saw V, not the best of films by a long shot, but when her hair is blonde, well its Buffy. Rambo, Dexter, No Ordinary Family…. *cough* – forget that one…..well you get my point!
Benz and her black hair plays Jackie, a woman struggling with an alcohol addiction and a tragedy from the past, who moves into the huge building block of Havenhurst that with first glance, reminds you of the place that Sharon Stone stepped into in the 90’s flick Sliver, only now dark and rundown with a hint of decay in the air. Even when we come to our first sex scene – hey its an horror it has to be one – a camera is filming the woman jumping up and down, her breasts swinging from left to right, faking an orgasm. Who is watching? Is it William Baldwin? Is he still furious that Stone walked out on him all those years ago for being a pervert? While I admit that would have been stupid and dumb (but still cool, I mean who doesn’t want a Sliver 2?…anyone?…anyone?),
Jackie is told the rules of her stay by the landlady of the place, Eleanor Mudgett, (The Other’s Fionnula Flanagan in her usual creepy panache). Every tenant has a history of moral undoing, you can stay in Havenhurst as long as you don’t return to your old life and manage to resist temptation. If you fail and succumb to your vices, then you will be evicted. But being “evicted” doesn’t mean being thrown onto the streets, in Havenhurst – it means torture and death.
Obviously Jackie is not told the last part. I mean if she was, then 99% of people would say “Thanks for the offer but I’d rather live in cardboard box!” and then we wouldn’t have much of a film, but thankfully for us, but not for her, she signs on the dotted line and moves in, but soon realises that all is not well within the place. Screams in the night, mystery clues left behind by Danielle Harris (damn you writers….damn you……), the longer the film goes on, the move flaws in the plot become apparent, but luckily the film moves with such a brisk pace that it doesn’t give the brain a chance to digest what the problems are on screen.
To be fair the film works for most of its running time. This is not a ground breaking horror by any stretch and its much similar to Tobe Hooper’s The Toolbox Murders, but what it offers is some effective jump scenes and a cool bad guy that looks like Vin Diesel, after he has gone on a massive diet!
Basically what we have in Havenhurst is a film that starts off like a potential haunted house horror but then makes the viewer fall into numerous trap doors until we settle on a riff of the Saw franchise. Torture porn was the rage back in the noughties and the horror genre really suffered from hundreds of straight to DVD knock offs, but since Found Footage took over, this film surprisingly came across like a breath of fresh air.
While not too gratuitous like many before, it, the film has enough blood to keep the gore hounds happy and while you may sigh at the predictability of it all, I mean why are Cops in horror films so dumb? I was willingly for Jackie and her young female friend Sarah (Belle Shouse) to survive the terror within the walls.
The mystery of Havenhurst won’t surprise any horror veteran but while the finale moves towards a big long chase through dark corridors, with the ever dependable Benz always carrying the vital screen presence, you realise that the film is a harmless Friday night entertainment that just does enough to appease those wanting a quick thrill.
I admit and say that the climax left a slight bitter aftertaste and most of you will see it coming, but nevertheless, Havenhurst excels thanks to its strong cast and a mixture of some good jump out of your skin moments, a nice long stalk and chase scene and enough lashes of blood.
If only they didn’t do that to Danielle Harris…..damn you writers, damn you indeed!
Brainstorm Media and Twisted Pictures have announced the February 10th limited theatrical and nationwide Cable VOD and Digital HD release of Andrew C. Erin’s Havenhurst. Co-written by Erin (Sam’s Lake, Simple Things) and Daniel Farrands (Amityville: The Awakening, Haunting in Connecticut, The Id), the film stars genre vet (Julie Benz, “Defiance”, “Dexter”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) as a woman battling her own demons while trying to uncover what happened to her apartment’s previous tenant (Danielle Harris, Halloween 4 & 5, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, the Hatchet franchise). Havenhurst will debut in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall.
Havenhurst will also begin weeklong theatrical runs in San Francisco, Denver, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston, Kansas City and Phoenix. Nationwide, Havenhurst will be available on Cable VOD and Digital HD platforms, including Charter Spectrum, Comcast, DirecTV Cinema, Dish, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Vudu and more.