– By Logan Noble
*Ye’ be warned… Minor spoilers ahead*
“Just be good. You don’t want to be a victim…”
‘Havenhurst’ is a film that is having a bit of a reality crisis. It’s a shadowed Gothic at times, and then a splattered Slasher seconds later. By the time the film finds its way to its final twist, you realize that ‘Havenhurst’ has lost itself in its own poorly lit hallways.
The plot follows Jackie (played by Julie Benz, from ‘Dexter’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ fame), who has just been released from rehab. She’s grieving after the loss of her daughter months prior to her admittance. With a new lease on life, Jackie follows the advice of her friend and applies to stay at a stately (but very spooky) apartment building named Havenhurst. When Jackie arrives, her friend is nowhere to be found. The landlord, (played by the always great Fionnula Flanagan), lays out the guidelines for living there. Follow the rules and stay clean. If you don’t, you’ll be evicted. Which, since this is a horror film, is not as innocent as it sounds. You see, people go missing in Havenhurst. A lot. With the help of an old cop friend and a young girl named Sarah, Jackie dives deep in the mystery that is Havenhurst.
First things first: Havenhurst is a very interesting setting. The building is well shot, filled with deep shadows and very interesting designs. The film’s first half sets it up as a setting worth exploring. But, as the tenants turn into victims, ‘Havenhurst’ begins to suffer from a severe case of tonal whiplash.
A pale murderer straight out of a later ‘Hills Have Eyes’ sequel kidnaps the rule breakers and spirits them off to a murder dungeon where he chops them up and other such nonsense. The blood effects and even some of the kills, while technically impressive, often veer into the realm of silliness.
Julie Benz does a decent job, even if her role is a bit thin. The loss of her daughter before the film’s opening doesn’t play much into the film’s final minutes which makes you wonder why the back story was included at all. Jackie’s relationship with Sarah, while interesting at first, doesn’t pay off in any meaningful way.
From promising Gothic mystery into rote Slasher. The strange leap makes the film’s set up feel pointless and wasteful. ‘Havenhurst’ is filled with a lot of good intentions and interesting ideas. It’s unfortunate that when we turn that key and step into the payoff, that ‘Havenhurst’ isn’t worth it. Oh! And you won’t be getting your security deposit back.