Friday, September 21, 2007
The Haunting of #24 (2007)
Forget the cheesy looking cover and settle in for a tense and terrifying story with the film The Haunting of #24 (aka Lie Still in it’s originating country, England).
An English man named John (Stuart Laing) moves into a decrepit flat. He has suffered through a hard breakup – his girlfriend Veronica (Nina Sosanya) left him for someone better and now he’s trying to get back on his feet and start fresh. Hell of a building he chose to start his new life!! Number 24 is dark, dank, has unfriendly tenants and just may have an unmarked grave in the backyard. Still, John has nowhere left to go and no money so he takes up residence. He only has contact with the jubilant landlord, Martin (Robert Blythe) and an old, crazy neighbor-lady (Susan Engel) next door. The other tenants, he’s told, pretty much keep to themselves.
Soon, strange things begin happening to John. After a long day of stalking his ex, he returns to his apartment and sacks out on his thin, lumpy mattress only to be woken up by someone (or something) scratching, then pounding, on his door. Over the next few days, he begins hearing strange noises and voices. His TV doesn’t get any reception, but one he sees a few ghostly people invade his TV screen. They are still there when he pulls the plug. A creepy photograph of the original owner (Granville Saxton) of the building seems to be changing every night. It appears that the man is getting closer and closer.
Soon, John isn’t sleeping and his exasperated ex-girlfriend thinks he’s having a nervous breakdown. John comes to believe that his landlord and crazy neighbor are in on whatever is going on. As John tries to decipher what is real and what isn’t, he falls deeper and deeper into despair and terror. Soon, he realizes that he can’t even leave the house. Can he find a way out of 24 before it is too late?
I am a sucker for ghost stories. If done well, they usually end up doing their job and scaring the ever-loving bejeesus outta me! If done wrong, they end up in the trashbin or sent back to Netflix with low, low ratings. Thankfully, The Haunting of #24 managed to do things right, saving itself from my wrath. It is a superbly done horror film, focusing on creepy images and amazing sound to send the appropriate shivers up my spine.
Now, this is a subtle film that takes its time getting under your skin and creeping you out. To all the fucktards that want their horror fast, furious and drenched and blood…gimme a break! There’s so much more out there than the typical gorefest. While I appreciate bloody and brainless fun, I still think that people who can’t appreciate an atmospheric, slower paced horror movie aren’t horror fans at all. All that said and done, The Haunting of #24 builds slowly, but once it reaches its apex the shocks and scares come at you at a steady pace. And we’re not just talking jump scares, here either. Writer/director Sean Hogan definitely knows how to build dread in a film, because that is exactly what he does here!
Though The Haunting of #24 is an independent film with a lower budget, it certainly hasn’t affected the effectiveness of the film. The movie looks appropriately dark and the forlorn #24 is certainly the perfect setting for the story. Though there are no “big-name” actors in the film, the acting is absolutely stellar. Stuart Laing as John does a remarkable job going from sad and rejected to absolutely terrifying and scared for his life. All his actions ring true in the film, which is a credit to Hogan’s script. The rest of the cast do a wonderful job as well, especially Robert Blythe as the landlord and Susan Engel as the old and creepy neighbor.
The sound design of the film and the accompanying score work wonders in this film. In one particularly scary scene, where, late at night, John is searching for his ex-girlfriend Veronica with only a flashlight to light up the creepy hallways and twisting stairs, the sound design used is extremely effective at creating a disorienting and frightening atmosphere.
There are many other impressive scenes that combine sounds, lighting and imagery that’ll spook you right outta your socks. Director Hogan has created a fine and frightening ghost story with The Haunting of #24, one that you shouldn’t miss. If you’re looking for a film that will send you diving under the covers, look no further than The Haunting of #24. Curl up all alone in a darkened room with this film and by the end you should be appropriately terrified.
Unless you are too busy watching Generic Gorefest #4,657, that is…
Available from Amazon!