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A HAUNTING IN SALEM (2011)
Directed by Shane Van Dyke
Written by H. Perry Horton
Starring Bill Oberst Jr., Courtney Abbiati, Jenna Stone, Nicholas Harson, Carey Van Dyke
Oh, god. I haven’t seen the other A HAUNTING IN… films, but if this one is any indication, I don’t think I’ll be seeking them out. Though there are some decent scares and some impressive effects shots, everything else in this one shows that if this series of films goes forward, it’s in dire need of renovation.
Bill Oberst Jr. plays a sheriff new to town and newly moved into a home that appears to be haunted. Oberst is miscast in this one. He’s much more effective as an eccentric or evil character, but is able to convey some sympathy with his soulful eyes. His wife (played by Courtney Abbiati) is also miscast since the gorgeous actress is waaaaaay out of his league and does not look like she is old enough to have two teenage kids (played by Jenna Stone & Nicholas Harson). This miscast family do the usual thing that happens in haunted house films: they’re so dysfunctional that none of them talk about the weird shit that is occurring to each of them when they are alone in the house.
In your usual haunted house films, the threat to the family brings them all together, conveying the strength of the family with a lovey-dovey ending of the unit hugging themselves as they leave the house behind. Props to A HAUNTING IN SALEM for not going that route. This one’s got a more macabre ending and one I actually think is quite ballsy.
There are some well-placed scares throughout and the makeup effects are nice (reminiscent of some of the ghosts from the classic A GHOST STORY). With a stronger cast, A HAUNTING IN SALEM might have been a better film. The film I saw lacked the punch in both acting and directing.