is scared of something. In magician Antony Gerard’s case, it is the fire marshal.
That local busybody shut down Phobia House, his popular Kalamazoo haunted house,
on what would have been their ten year anniversary. Determined not to let that
happen again, the Gerard family moves Phobia House and the dozens of temp jobs
it creates out of the Kalamazoo inspector’s jurisdiction. Anthony Morrison
follows their rocky rebound season in Haunters,
which screens as a midnight selection of the 2014 DOC NYC.
year before last, Phobia House was ranked #1 amongst regional Michigan haunted
houses. Then the nanny state killed everyone’s fun. The Gerards have built sort
of a mini-empire, but Halloween is crunch time for phobia house, their latex
mask molding business, and the Timid Rabbit, their magic and costume supply
store. They think they have found a suitable space outside of town in a
shuttered paintball range, but it will take time and money to convert it.
is a lot of passion that goes into creating an attraction like Phobia House.
For an economically depressed community like Kalamazoo, it also happens to be a
welcome source of seasonal employment. Yet, many of the entitled millennials
Gerard hires blow off the job days before Phobia House re-opens.
his credit, Morrison never mocks or gawks at the Gerards. This is a film that
respects hard work, especially when it is performed in zombie make-up. It
certainly gives viewers an appreciation for haunting as a calling. Frankly, it
seems there should be some sort of agreement barring reviews during the first
few days of operation, much like a Broadway show, because there will inevitably
be kinks to work out.
also gives viewers an up-close-and-personal perspective on the scaring process
through his inspired use of night vision. Phobia House looks genuinely intense,
maybe even a little sick, particularly when they add the unsettling special
attraction of a woman hanging from her impaled hooks, as a sort of goth geek
Haunters is a film about blue collar
Americana and its mounting economic anxiety, but it comes with some very creepy
visuals and a bit of insight into why we like to be scared. The title is a bit
pedestrian though and might be confused with another Haunters documentary about the haunted house business, as well as
the Abigail Breslin supernatural thriller Haunter
or the Jacki Weaver horror film Haunt.
It is always nice to see hard work rewarded in
the movies and Morrison’s Haunters is
no exception. Recommended for fans of live haunted houses, Haunters screens a stroke before the witching hour this Saturday
night (11/15) at the IFC Center, as part of this year’s DOC NYC.
Labels: DOC NYC '14, Documentary, Haunted Houses