The Haunted

Before The Conjuring, Annabelle and The Nun there was an obscure movie made for TV called “The Haunted”.

In the 1970’s, Jack and Janet Smurl moves to a big house in West Pittston, Pennsylvania, together with Jack’s parents who resides in one part of the house. Janet, being a housewife and spending most of the time alone in the house, starts experiencing strange things like unexplained noises and a dark shape showing up while she’s cleaning the house. As things escalate, they contact a pair of priests who, instead of helping them, advice them to seek family counseling. In desperation Janet seeks out the well-known paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, and the war against the paranormal has started.

“The Haunted” can in many ways be seen as the first “Conjuring” movie, and is based on what the Smurl-family experienced in the period between 1979-89. However, this TV-movie is pretty obscure and doesn’t even have any official dvd release. Which is quite sad, as this is a pretty good haunted house horror movie.

My first meeting with this movie was in the early 1990’s when it was shown on “TV3” under the norwegian title “Hjemsøkt av djevelen” (which means “Haunted by the devil”). At that time (and age) it was the scariest movie I had seen and it caused a couple of sleepless nights afterwards. There are several scenes in the movie that are quite effective because they play the good game of “less is more”. There is, however, an incredibly cheesy scene where Jack Smurl is attacked and sexually assaulted by a demon in the living room, with pink lighting effects and a smoke machine. Aside from that, the movie does have a serious tone and is suspenseful and creepy, and it would be nice to see it released on dvd someday. Or, at the very least, on streaming (like Netflix, Prime, and so on). As of now, the only options you have are bootlegs or YouTube.

The Haunted

The film is also based on the biography “The Haunted: One Family’s Nightmare” by Robert Curran, which I recommend if you’re interested in the life of Ed and Lorraine Warren, or if you simply enjoy a great ghost story.

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102007/

The House Next Door

The young couple Krish and Lakshmi live in an idyllic little neighborhood in a quiet village. They are invited to a welcome party in the neighboring house, the house next door (yes, literally), which is an old house previously owned by a Chinese family. The party turns into a dramatic event when the new family’s young daughter goes outside and, like in a trance, falls into the giant well in the garden. Krish, who is also a doctor, jumps down and saves her, but after this event the girl is not quite the same in the days after. The word “possessed” is not far away, and she is sent to a psychologist who is blaming her for her interest in heavy metal music (as if we were back in the 80s), reading horror litterature and watching horror movies. He is determined that she is easily influenced by horror, and mixed together with the recent move, he believes that therein lies all her problems. Still, her problems grow worse and in the end the family see no other option than calling for a priest and have a good old-fashioned exorcism.

Bollywood is a whole new territory for me, and I wasn’t really sure what I would expect from this two-hour long ghost / possession movie, except a musical number every 10 minutes. Bollywood is known to love adding some music tracks, but in this movie we only get a small cheer- and colorful montage of the young couple, with a pop song that shows us the story of how he and she met, married etc. For a person like me who is not used to this kind of thing in horror movies, I immediately felt that it set a strange contrast in a movie that also captures inspirations from The Conjuring and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, overflowing with a ton of other horror and pop culture references where even a certain Dean Winchester would had lost the overview. Also, Krish works as a surgeon at a hospital called Silent Hill Hospital… yes, seriously. Silent Hill Hospital. Maybe all this was done in order to appeal as much as possible to an international audience, especially in the United States, but this is just overkill. Nor can I avoid mentioning that the psychologist is similar to Roger Ebert, which must be a crazy coincidence.

With its two hours running time, The House Next Door never gets scary, and the frequent broken English mixed into their sentences (Hinglish) makes several moments just involuntarily comical (at least for people like me who isn’t used to this sort of thing). Nevertheless, the film has its strong elements, like beautiful cinematography with a lot of atmosphere, and with its fast pacing and colorful characters, I certainly had a fun time watching it. So if you’ve never seen a Bollywood horrorfilm before, then I can assure you that this will be a compelety new, fresh, unique and somewhat bizarre experience.

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7471004/

Truth or Dare (2018)

While on a partying trip to Mexico, a group of young friends meet a guy who wants them to join him for a game of “Truth or Dare” in an old abandoned church. What starts out as an innocent game, soon turns deadly when they realize they’ve been tricked into an evil demon’s version of the game. If you fail to answer truthfully on the demon’s “truth” questions, or refuse to commit its “dares”, the consequence is a quick and painful death.

Yes, you know this is going to be silly as hell. When I saw the trailer for this movie, I actually decided to skip watching it on the big screen. I normally watch most horror movies that comes out in the cinema, but the incredibly silly “demonic faces” the trailer showed off all the time made it somewhat cringeworthy. Thank goodness for streaming services like Netflix and SF Anytime.

Watching this movie in the comforts of home, I have to admit that I didn’t find it as bad as I had expected it to be. Silly concept/plot? Yeah, sure. The chesire-cat grins of the demonic faces didn’t bother me as much as I had feared, and I found myself entertained enough. These days, I never expect a movie to be able to scare me anyway (after watching so many horror movies, I’m afraid those days are long gone). The movie goes forward just like you’d expect a movie of this kind to do: young sexy people need to battle the supernatural force while being killed off in various ways, one by one, until (after enough of them have been killed off), the remaining ones need to dig deeper into finding a way to solve the “mystery” behind the deadly game and how to escape from it alive. Yes, you’ve pretty much seen it before…it’s a tried a tired formula that every horror movie fan has seen numerous times already, but who cares about that as long as it works to entertain you. Every new movie release doesn’t need to bring a brand new dish to the table in order to be watchable.

Overall, “Truth or Dare” is an easy-going horrorflick to watch on a rainy evening with some pizza and beer. It’s not a masterpiece, but certainly delivers if you’re in the mood for some silly fun.

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6772950/

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