It’s not the most original Horror movie I’ve ever seen, but writer/director Christian Bisceglia’s The Haunting of Helena is a ghost story that’s got a lot going for it: There’s a creepy kid living in a creepy apartment in a creepy building in a creepy city where she’s tormented by a creepy ghost. It’s creepy.
Read my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: A tale of a mysterious woman, a little girl, and her single mother, The Haunting of Helena presents a new twist on the legend of the Tooth Fairy. After a divorce, Sophia moves to the south of Italy with her daughter, Helena. Their new home, an apartment within an austere building of the fascist age, is a chance for them to start a new life. But inside an old storage room hides a mysterious closet and a buried secret. After the loss of Helena’s first baby tooth, a chilling obsession begins and an apparition haunts her sleep. Dreams become nightmares. Nightmares become reality. When Helena collects her classmate’s fallen teeth with an urgent hunger, it is clear that there is far more to their new home than can be seen. Sophia finds herself in a terrifying fight to save her child while maintaining her sanity. The Haunting of Helena will keep you at the edge of your seat as it slides in agony along the sharp blade of psychological terror.
The Haunting of Helena kicks off with a history lesson about the film’s location: A community in Italy reclaimed from marshland at the insistence of Benito Mussolini. Thousands of workers, most of them impoverished World War I veterans, toiled day and night in mosquito infested swamps. Many died of malaria, others simply worked themselves to death. The results: A city of austere buildings and concrete streets that became the dictator’s pride. It’s a connection to Italy’s Fascist past where ghosts are part of the very architecture.
The Haunting of Helena preys on a parent’s worst nightmare: The inability to protect one’s child from danger. When her daughter’s disturbing actions and behavior can no longer be ignored, Sophia allows herself to believe in a supernatural enemy. Not only is this a danger she’s ill equipped to combat, she’s isolated by the outlandishness of her situation. Confiding in someone, a doctor or her ex-husband, for example, could have disastrous consequences if her sanity is called into question—a reality that’s intensified by the fact that Sophia is indeed keeping secrets. Even viewers may find themselves questioning whether mother and daughter are in the throes of a shared hallucination.
The film’s effects are awesome, both effectively terrifying and stunningly beautiful. The Tooth Fairy’s emergence is chilling and brilliant. All ghost effects are deeply haunting. Fans of Darkness Falls, and The Ring are likely to enjoy The Haunting of Helena, as well as anyone interested in modern Italian cinema. More gothic than gory, there are still enough genuine scares to keep you on the edge of your seat.
The Haunting of Helena is atmospheric and morose, slow-burn but never boring. It’s a solid ghost story with balls, but not so much Horror as to alienate the mainstream. The ending isn’t impossible to predict, but it is a good twist.
3 out of 5 Skull Heads.
|release date (DVD/VOD)||September 17 2013|
|studio||Bloody Disgusting Selects|
|director||Christian Bisceglia, Ascanio Malgarini|
|starring||Harriet MacMasters-Green, Sabrina Jolie Perez, Jarreth J. Merz|