There are things worse than death. One could, for example, wake up each morning to find it’s the day before your 16th birthday — again. In “Haunter,” Lisa (Abigail Breslin) lives this “Groundhog Day” nightmare day after day, a rebellious teen doomed to eat the same meatloaf, do the same laundry and watch the same episode of “Murder, She Wrote” for the rest of eternity. Her plight is made worse by the fact that the rest of her family is in the same boat, but they’re oblivious to their situation.
Lisa has been going through this routine for going-on 30 years but only recently woke up to the fact that, in an “Others"-like twist, she and her family are actually ghosts, haunting the home of another family about to meet the same fate as hers. For the house belongs to Edgar Mullen (a creepy Stephen McHattie), a serial killer who collects the souls of his victims like butterflies in a jar.
Director Vincenzo Natali (“Splice”) brings cool visuals and a punk attitude to Brian King’s cleverly layered script. (Lisa wears a Siouxsie and the Banshees tee.) The suburban home is flooded with golden, purgatorial light, and the mobile camera pans through time to illustrate the redundancy of Lisa’s days, using doorways and mirrors to frame the supernatural. When the worlds of the dead and the living collide, the image lights up as though shot through with electricity, and when Lisa travels through time, the image adopts the aesthetics of the era.
“Haunter” offers a freaky, visceral experience — without a hint of gore.
“Haunter.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes. At Downtown Independent, Los Angeles. Also on VOD.