Ace booze-hound Jackie puts the bottle down long enough to procure a job at a diner and get set up in swanky new digs within a Gothic apartment building; the eponymous Havenhurst. Seems prosaic enough, even with the one rule to reside in the Big H; lead a clean and sober life and you can stay as long as you like on a pay what you can basis. But what if you F that up six ways to Sunday you may ask? Well you can go and get yourself disappeared like Jackie’s gal pal Danielle, who used to reside in the building before her vanishing act.
This being a fright flick and all, you can bet your bony ass that that those demons our rum soaked friend is battling are going to turn out to be a bit more than alcohol related. Thankfully she has a hard ass New York detective and a sad ass foster kid to help her out in this time of horrific crisis…yup, a scowling dude that barely shows up and a frowning moppet; all you need to take on a building that is laden with traps and psychos.
Havenhurst is definitely a mixed bag. As you can tell from the description above; this flick has kind of a Saw vibe going on (though both owe a debt of gratitude to real life garden variety nutcase H.H. Holmes and his Victorian-era muderhouse…hell that daffy bastard even gets a mention in Havenhurst), so the path it follows is well traveled, that’s for sure. Also, some of the acting, in particular from lead Julie Benz as Jackie is a tad lethargic, and the pace of the film does have a few areas where it seems to drag a bit (odd given the economical eighty four minute run time) and could have used a few more scares here and there to punch things up.
That being said, the building the story takes place in adds immeasurably to the atmosphere of the piece, with it’s anachronistic design and dark corridors (as does the color palette of the film), and the actual murder machine haunting the halls is so out of place (think post apocalyptic chic) that the film is worth giving a look, even if we’ve seen it all before in one way or another. Another nod goes to the gore on display, while not plentiful by any means, it is suitably grizzly and well executed, and that always gets a smile from your’s cruelly.
All things considered; I’d give Havenhurst a mild recommendation; it is by no means a bad picture, just a bit of the same old same old…but the atmospheric locale and off-kilter killer make it worth a look.