Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Movie Review: "The Haunting of Helena" (2012)

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Movie"The Haunting of Helena"
Director: Christian Bisceglia & Ascanio Malgarini
Year: 2012
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

A history teacher named Sophia (Harriet MacMasters-Green) moves into a new apartment with her daughter Helena (Sabrina Jolie Perez). Upon losing her first baby tooth during a car accident, a strange woman that lives in the old wardrobe in Helena's bedroom comes and takes her tooth from under her pillow. Helena believes this woman to be the tooth fairy as she always demands more teeth, but the far more sinister truth is slowly revealed as the mysterious past of the house and wardrobe start to be uncovered by Sophia.

This film is a low budget horror that takes place in Italy. Italy and horror movies seem to go hand in hand for some reason. It is in many ways, "The Haunting of Helena" is your standard, run of the mill ghost story. An antique wardrobe with a shaky past, combined with Helena losing a baby tooth, is the catalyst for hauntings to begin taking place. The filmmakers try their best to create an eerie mood through the use of a classical violin score. This includes the occasional, expected string screech, and surprisingly more often than not, this is relatively effective. The film is set at Sophia and Helena's apartment, which was the site of a murder back in the 1940's, which would explain why it's haunted. The other primary setting for the film is a mental hospital where Helena is being treated after she starts seeing ghosts. But not surprisingly, the hospital has a connection with the murder as well, meaning the haunting continues while she is there. The film does contain the occasional gruesome image, mostly involving torn up faces with missing teeth and bleeding mouths. Thinking about all of your teeth being pulled out is a rather disturbing thought on it's own and can send shivers up and down your spine just thinking about it, especially if you're due to go to the dentist like BigJ and I are. YUCK.

One of the problems with the gore in this film, however, is that it is mostly CGI. CGI gore is rarely (if ever) fully convincing and here, it's often not even passable. We get that it's a low budget film, but wouldn't it make sense to make the blood and gore involved seem effective rather than hokey and cheaper than the filmmakers intended? The story has a few twists, and while we do enjoy the effort, the path to get there is a little disjointed. Bar none, the worst part about this movie is its stars. The acting in this film is pretty bad, if not downright awful. Harriet MacMasters-Green, who plays Sophia, seems to often lack proper inflection and doesn't deliver any of the emotion we'd expect from a character going through her circumstances. It's painfully obvious she's not at all into her performance and pretty much showed up to work on this film as if she were reading her lines straight from the page. The same can be said about Sabrina Jolie Perez, who plays the titular Helena, and essentially speaks her lines in a monotone manner . She never seems to have any inflection in her tone or even the right reaction to correlate with the on-screen situation. All of this also goes double for a couple other actors who wound up as victims in the film, attacked by a giant swarm of mosquitoes. Whenever this CGI swarm would pop up on screen, the actors would seem to respond with indifference to the fact they were about to have their blood drained by a bazillion tiny little mosquito bugs all gnawing at their flesh at the same time. Despite all these downfalls, when we look past its rather amateur execution, it somewhat managed to engage us at least a little and create a fitting atmosphere for a horror movie, though it's still not spectacular enough to even be considered above average.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 4.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ---%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.
Two years ago, we were watching: "The Clown Murders"

One year ago, we were watching: "The Haunting of Whaley House"

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