Haunt is a 2019 release from Bryan Woods and Scott Beck (A Quiet Place) and producer Eli Roth (Hostel) that explores the darkest side of extreme haunted attractions.

The film follows a group of friends on Halloween night who are all looking to attend something other than the traditional boring costume party; they find a flier for an “extreme” haunted attraction and all gear up to go. Harper (Katie Stevens) is going through relationship problems with an abusive boyfriend and has endured a traumatic past due to her parents’ own marital struggles where abuse is also implied. She reluctantly attends, especially under pressure that this sort of event will take her mind away from the situation with her boyfriend.

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Once they arrive at the haunted attraction, they all are forced to sign a waiver that gives all of them pause. It is explicit in saying that they may undergo extreme situations and incur bodily harm, but even though this is clearly meant to be some sort of red flag, the majority are all skeptical of how dangerous this situation might be and decide it’s part of the act. Not soon after they are inside, they witness what appears to be a real murder right in front of them and later discover that the various masked people working inside the house are all out to kill them.

In the age of extreme haunted attractions being not only sought after, but a common point of discussion, particularly around Halloween, Haunt is a timely look at just how much abuse people are willing to pay to endure at the hands of someone who is supposedly safe. Recent documentaries have explored the phenomenon of trauma survivors and adrenaline junkies wanting to attend these attractions for the rush or for catharsis, and it has been explored in other horror films such as The Houses October Built (2014), its sequel The Houses October Built 2 (2017), and Extremity (2018). In Haunt, the reasoning behind why the staff of the attraction have decided to set these elaborate traps for their visitors is unknown until almost the very end, which paves the way for audiences to question their motivations from start to finish.

After most of her friends are dead, Harper starts to pick off the killers one by one along with Nathan (Will Brittain), who she only just recently met before they arrived. At one point, her boyfriend ends up using GPS to track her and ends up heading toward the attraction, but he is quickly picked off by the killers before he can save her. Nathan and Harper seem like they may be headed toward a budding relationship, though the outcome on this is never revealed.

The big twist is revealed when Nathan and Harper capture the worker who is wearing a vampire mask, and he tells them that the reason why they do what they do is because they are part of a cult. The vampire says that the cult believes that they must make themselves into monsters underneath the masks, and derive pleasure from tearing other people’s faces off. Earlier in the film, “Mitch”, the staff member wearing the ghost mask takes it off and shows that his face has been mutilated to match the mask’s exterior. As more of the killers’ true faces are revealed, some are unmasked or shown unmasked and the audience can see that they have all tried to emulate the masks they wear, almost as if they want to become whatever avatar they portray inside the house.

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Harper escapes the attraction and it is subsequently burned to the ground by traps that have been set in place to destroy the structure and all the evidence by the man in the clown mask. Recalling that they had to give up their phones before entry and wrote their home addresses on the waiver sheet, Harper realizes that the man in the clown mask would be able to track her location and follow her home. In the film’s final sequence, the man in the clown mask arrives at Harper’s home only to find that she has set a trap for him much like the ones they endured in the attraction. She shoots him with a shotgun and he dies, but it’s unclear as to whether these members of the cult are the only ones out there or if any others survived.

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