Wednesday 15 March 2023

Prime Time: Resurrection Of Evil (2016)

AKA Havenhurst.

We’ve all done it, picked a movie based on one name in the cast list to quickly realise that the person you wanted to watch it only onscreen for one or two scenes. It happens more often in the horror genre than anywhere else, in my experience, with a famous name used to sell the film to loyal fans who might be curious.

Despite the hugely varying quality of the movies that she has been involved with, and I don’t begrudge any working actor the chance to grab those paychecks, I am happy to check out anything starring Danielle Harris. That is why I decided to watch Resurrection Of Evil, but I soon realised that the involvement of Harris amounted to little more than a brief cameo. Oh well, I just had to hope that the rest of the film was worth my time.

Sadly, it wasn’t.

Julie Benz plays Jackie, a woman who ends up being permitted to live in a furnished apartment in a large gothic building, named Havenhurst. A recovering alcoholic, possibly poised to lapse if top many things remind her of her deceased daughter, Jackie starts to find out more and more about her new home that adds up to an unnerving picture. But it is too easy for others to dismiss her concerns.

Directed by Andrew C. Erin, who also co-wrote the script with Daniel Farrands, this is a good horror movie environment without an actual good horror movie filling the space. A few early scenes have some decent atmosphere and ambiguity, but things get tiresome as more details are revealed, taking everything more into the realm of overused tropes and unimaginative plotting.

Benz isn’t terrible in her role, but she has to spend most of the film being a nervy amateur investigator, as well as spending one or two moments looking at alcohol while thinking about the death of her daughter. Fionulla Flanagan plays the benevolent owner of the building, a twinkle of menace in her eyes immediately clueing viewers in to the fact that she at least knows something about what is going on under her nose. Others play their parts well enough, but the only name I will highlight is Belle Shouse, playing a girl named Sarah who brings out the maternal side of our lead. Shouse is really good in her role, and I wish she had been given even more to do.

Although it’s not a complete travesty, there just isn’t much to hold your interest once the direction of the story becomes clear. The casting doesn’t make the most of those involved (as well as Harris going offscreen quickly, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn is similarly underused), the visuals lack any real inventiveness and style, and the special effects are hampered by the relatively low budget.

I have seen a lot of films that are much worse than this. Every horror fan probably has. That doesn’t mean you should rush to see it though. Even (especially?) if you’re a big fan of Danielle Harris.


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