Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Haunting of #24 (2005)

Rent's Due

Editor's Note: This review was originally written and published around 2006 and is being reposted in connection with the release of Little Deaths, a new anthology that features the work of this film's director, Sean Hogan.

British horror has really surprised me this year. Severance grabbed me by the balls and after a dozen or so really great UK horror flicks, they haven’t let go. Sean Hogan’s The Haunting of #24 also refuses to give my cockney a break, continually making my sex life very difficult. Well, you know. That and my conjoined twin.

After a nasty breakup, John (Stuart Laing) moves into a small housing complex run by the jolly Martin Stone (Robert Blythe) where all of the tenants keep to themselves. The place seems fairly isolated, but perfect for someone who wants to run away from their problems, such as our protagonist. It’s by no means a welcoming place; though it’s furnished, it looks quite drab and the picture left by a previous tenant of a creepy man on a staircase doesn’t help. Almost immediately after he’s settled in, John starts having some creepy experiences; someone bangs on his door heavily, he receives a note telling him to leave immediately, and his neighbor, a crabby yet slutty old lady doesn’t make his stay any better. Soon he starts seeing things and is convinced something is up. Mr. Stone continually assures John that it’s just his imagination as he settles into a new building, and his ex-girlfriend, who is doing her best not to add any more baggage to his problems, tries to reason with him as well. Once she realizes he’s losing sleep and starting to appear insane, she agrees to stay over with him so he can rest. But when she mysteriously vanishes, John is determined to escape from his new residence. That is, if the building will let him.

The Haunting of #24 (or Lie Still as it’s called in the UK) works because it’s a taut psychological thriller with some subtle scares and great atmosphere. Utilizing the less-is-more approach, it throws in some creepy imagery such as the (aforementioned wall picture) continually changing and some eerie moments involving a television. At the same time, I actually found myself wondering if it was all going on in his head. I really had to ride this one out until the ending is revealed.

Unfortunately for me, the ending left a decent bit to be resolved. I was fairly confused about a few things when it was over and felt that a little more explanation could have prevented it from ending a bit too open-ended. The resolution/twist is explained fairly thoroughly, but it still left a few things unanswered in my opinion. However, that shouldn’t dissuade you from checking out this movie. The acting, especially on the part of Laing is top notch. This guy plays his character with perfection. The less sleep he got and the more crazy he started to appear, the crazier and sluggish I felt by watching it, solely from his ability to play that role so vividly.

I mainly enjoyed this movie because it was a refreshing break from the gory torture films I’ve been watching lately. As I previously stated in another review, ghost stories have been long overdue for a comeback and I’m thankful that some filmmakers are still interested in the sub-genre. Also, kudos to Sean Hogan who made this film, being that it is his first writing and directing credit. By creating high quality horror on a low budget, I can safely say that the future holds a lot in store for him.

So go on and give this movie a try. It’s guaranteed to give you a few chills and if anything, will make you think twice about signing that lease.

3.5/5 Stars
(film images coming soon) 

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