2.5 out of 10
Released Date: 14th October 2014 (DVD Premiere)
Cast: Jon-Paul Gates, Steven M. Smith, Vivien Creegan, Freddy Fuller, Gemma Gurvitz, Natalie Gurvitz, Laura Penneycard, Briony Rawle, Frank Threapleton-Horrocks, Samantha Scott and Jeremy Hill
Writer: Mark Behar, Steven M. Smith, Zane Casablanca, Svenja Quazzani, Zane Quazzani
Trailer: HAUNTED (2013)
Hahaha, ever wondered what it would be like to throw a bunch of kids from Essex in a haunted house and watch the results? Then wonder no longer. Here comes Steven M. Smith‘s crack at a horror faux-documentary with hand-held cameras. Barely anything scary is captured on camera except for a bunch of panicking Essexers with verbal diahorrea!
Six Essex twenty-somethings get invited to spend the night ghost hunting with a film crew for a TV show. The destination is a haunted train museum (with sped-up trains!) in deepest Essex. There’s a legend of a creepy ghost who derailed a train only to go mysteriously missing in the 1960s. He’s been seen stalking one of the platforms late at night. Will they be able to resist updating their Twitter accounts or talking about themselves for long enough to understand that our world and the next is about to blend in unintentionally funny ways.
Haunted has some wonderfully, relaxed performances from a largely unknown cast. Most impressive is Vivien Creeger as the presenter of the show – I didn’t see what happened to her in the melee of carnage that happened at the end. Secondly, the director Steven M. Smith (ESSEX BOYS – LAW OF SURVIVAL) gives the acting lark a bash and besides feeling a need to talk over the rest of his cast, he seems at ease as a performer. Only Jon-Paul Gates (HAUNTED 2) strains to convince as The Medium. He’s OK most of the time but when he’s required to do anything psychic or react to anything spooky it goes pear shaped for him. He also struggles to pronounce some words as well like when he describes the undead spirit of Mrs Jones as having ‘coffee-ered’ instead of ‘coiffeured’ hair, it prompts cackles. There was another couple of instances that were unfortunate, but I won’t labour the point.
Whilst it was an easy watch, thanks to the panicky, self-obsesessed big mouthed characters, who just wouldn’t shut up long enough for you to pick up the ambience of the setting, there’s still a bus load of things wrong with this Essex Witch Project. Everyone was shouting, “Shhh, what the f**k was that?’, “What?”, “Shhh”, “Don’t tell me to shhh! Ere wass that over your shoulder?” etc, etc. One scene which has to be recommended purely for comedy purposes was when one of the ‘witnesses’ Freddy (FREDDY FULLER) is left to complete a lone vilgil in an Underground tube train. He get’s spooked and reacts in such a great way intially, he would easily put Scooby & Shaggy to shame. Then again, when he’s re-enacting what happened to him to the rest of the stunned ghosthunters, he’s hilariously animated. But then he re-enacts it again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again. At least it was realistic because I’ve seen people do this in real life, relate how a story went in a loop until somebody shuts them up. Same goes with one of the girls, one of them says the same sentence four times in a row describing how safe she feels in a particular part of the train museum. It could be the Steven M. Smith has tapped into the most vital form of Cinema Real as it refuses to behave like a film – I’m amazed to see that Haunted has 5 credited writers, as it’s just improvised and those that shout the loudest get their lines heard. Where was the editor? If it’s the same guy as the one who did the chopping job on Hooligans At War and Essex Boys – Law of Survival. He was probably drunk, again.
There’s no scares to be had and the ending is botched, as a creature called The Station Master (JEREMY HILL) goes on a killing rampage at the end. Which is disorientating and non-sensical. Who dies, who lives?
2.5 out of 10 – Mostly unscary but a committed and natural cast lift this off the bottom. Sadly, it’s funny not chilling. Worth watching for the Underground train sequence.
PS: This has been rejacketed in 2016 and renamed Ghosts.
Second review by Matt ‘Toastbusters’ Usher below
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Jon-Paul Gates: Haunted 5, Haunted 4, Haunted 3, Haunted 2, Knights of the Damned, The Howling (2017), The Dollmaker, Gridiron UK, Borstal, Invasion Earth, I Am Hooligan, Kicking Off, Hooligans At War
- Steven M. Smith: Haunted 5, Haunted 4, Haunted 3, Haunted 2, The Dollmaker, Borstal (dir), Invasion Earth (dir), I Am Hooligan (dir), Essex Boys: Law of Survival (dir), Hooligans At War (dir), The Time of Her Life (dir)
- Laura Penneycard: The Time of Her Life
- Jeremy Hill: The Time of Her Life