review of The Haunting of Helena:
This film by Christian Bisceglia (writer/The Haunting of Helena got off to a bad start. There are a few reasons for this: It moves too fast in terms of plot and story, which leads to dismal character development, and then Bisceglia and Malgarini try to scare you in every scene with creepy music and a number of potential jump scares. They went at it, and the went at it aggressively, unfortunately they overdid it.) and Ascanio Malgarini (director) damn near fell into the “pass” bin. Originally titled Fairytale,
These points alone could potentially turn away most audiences. Add in the low-budget look of the film, and you might end up with 10% of your original audience.
When I said the film moves fast, I’m talking Flash fast. The Haunting of Helena got to the haunting within five minutes; most films take 20 minutes to introduce you to the challenge faced by your protagonists.
To summarize the film, we have Sophia (Harriet MacMasters-Green), a recently divorced single mother. She and her daughter, Helena (Sabrina Jolie Perez), have just moved to a new apartment in Italy, while her father, Robert (Jarreth J. Merz), takes up residence in Cancun. While moving in, Sophia finds an old armoire in the building’s storage area and has it moved into their apartment. The armoire and the apartment are haunted and soon Helena begins to feel the effects, which includes an irrational obsession with losing and acquiring teeth, resulting in institutionalization…
And I won’t ruin the rest of the movie for you, because it’s the second half of The Haunting of Helena that truly excels. Two-thirds of the film plods along in a fairly predictable manner (the filmmakers really didn’t even make an attempt to conceal what needed to be done), but toward the end, you get jerked in an entirely new direction with no warning. In most cases this would be cause to destroy a movie, but it totally works here and is actually the movie’s saving grace.
While you’ll never empathize for any of these characters, you truly are just an observer, there is a scene that reminded me of The Exorcist, when Regan is being examined and studied in the hospital with her mother at her side. There’s something similar here, but like I said, you won’t care.
There are a couple of other points that stood out for me: the creepy neighbor was humorously named “Mr. Ferri”; what do bugs and mosquitos have to do with this ghost’s haunting?; and why didn’t Sophia climb over that damn piano instead of trying to squeeze between it and the wall?
The Verdict: [rating:2.5]
If you live for haunting/ghost films, then you should see The Haunting of Helena. If you don’t, then don’t. I get that this is a foreign film, which often have different ways of telling a story, but I felt it just had too many issues to fall in love with it. Still, there is a scene in it that won’t quickly be forgotten byfans, which is to say that there are redeeming qualities to the film… and it does get better by the end.
Rock Hard \m/
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Year Released:
- 21 June 2013 (limited); 18 June 2013 (VOD)
- Christian Bisceglia, Ascanio Malgarini
- Harriet MacMasters-Green, Sabrina Jolie Perez, Jarreth J. Merz
- Horror, Ghost, Thriller
- Official URL:
- The Haunting of Helena