Directed by: Andrew C. Erin
Cast: Julie Benz, Fionnula Flanagan, Belle Shouse
If you’ve had your eyes on this production, salivating while you await its arrival, you can wipe your face and breathe deep; Havenhurst is no masterpiece. That being said, it does have some enjoyable moments, a few quality performances and a nod or two to throwback terror. The cinematography is generally crisp and clean and the editing, while not all too risky, does indeed look polished. This is a film that juggles pros and cons in equal abundance.
Appearances from Danielle Harris and Jennifer Blanc-Biehn prove to be little more than exploitative in design – they’re attached to lure you in, and then they’re disposed of in swift fashion. These two appear for a combined (roughly) 10 minutes, at best, so if you were planning on pursuing the flick for their offerings exclusively, save your money. If you’re drawn to the film as a result of its premise and appearance, by all means, jump in head-first.
You know, that sounds rather dismissive, and that isn’t exactly the case. Genre familiar Julie Benz certainly deserves some credit as she does an impressive job in fronting the flick and she gets good, strong support from Dendrie Taylor and Fionnula Flanagan. The cast is stuffed with genuinely skilled performers, even if a few of our favorites are a bit neglected.
It’s rather obvious that director and co-writer (with Daniel Farrands), Andrew C. Erin knows how to shoot a film and has an affinity for the genre. He gives us some slick long hallway shots and uses a few different lighting techniques that help in successfully creating an ominous atmosphere. He also does an excellent job of keeping his villain in the shadows, allowing a tension we’ve all but forgotten (in this day and age) to build slowly. The man really nurtures his characters and that pays dividends.
I would have loved to have seen a bit more ingenuity invested in the script. This story feels like a cross between a slightly altered rendition of the 2004 remake of the Toolbox Murders and the American remake of Dark Water. There’s a very real familiarity to the picture, and that would work, if this was an installment in a pre-existing film franchise. It’s not. And that’s why the relatively bland script emerges as one of the major hiccups to try to look beyond.
If you head into Havenhurst knowing that this is straight-forward and conversant piece of fiction with a few highs and a few lows, you’re bound to see some valuable entertainment. If you approach the film with the intention of dissecting it, you just might kill the film’s fragile hopes of impressing.