Monday, July 17, 2017

HAVENHURST (2016) [Joe's Review]

Havenhurst seems like the nicest halfway house ever. But ***SPOILER ALERT*** it’s really one of the meanest!

In his review, my friend Paul covered the general plot of Havenhurst and also pointed out that it’s a pretty good movie (in the context of the worst-ever movies we generally cover). I will really briefly also cover the plot, and then dive into the two things I actually want to talk about:
  • The protagonist’s investigative drinking
  • The creepy guy who lives under the trap doors

So, the general plot is this: Jackie and Danielle became friends in rehab. When Danielle vanished, Jackie investigated the last place she was seen: Havenhurst. Which was pretty convenient because Havenhurst is where fresh-out-of-rehab alcoholics live rent free, and Jackie just happened to qualify. She even got to live in Danielle's old room!

But there’s a catch! If you relapse at Havenhurst, you’ll fall through a trap door into a dungeon where a creepy guy will rip your guts out.

That’s a pretty simple premise, but the movie seemed to promise a lot more in the early going. The hotel itself is kind of a puzzle box and the atmosphere pulses with unseen evil.

But alas, the thrill of the movie is largely undermined when Jackie says “Screw it, I’ll drink this bottle of whiskey and see where that takes me.” Based on what you’ve seen previously in Havenhurst, she should fall through a trap door and get disemboweled. But, she doesn’t. Instead, she sleeps through the night and then investigates the laundry room with the help of the little neighbor girl and finds a hidden door that leads to the Room of Evidence that Havenhurst is Evil.

When you consider that the alcohol didn’t help her find the evidence room, Jackie’s drinking seems pretty asinine. What makes it even worse is the fact that she got drunk the SAME night she offered to take care of the little neighbor girl, Sarah, who had just survived a brutal rape attempt. I get it, children make you want to drink. Mine certainly do. And so did Jackie’s, as shown in a flashback scene where she drunkenly fails to cook dinner for her daughter. This is the second worst type of drunken cooking.

But Jackie wasn’t drinking to relieve the pressure of parental responsibility. She drank to find out what happened to people who drank at Havenhurst – she heard them screaming as they disappeared, but what were the actual consequences? Only one way to find out, right?

Actually, Jackie was uniquely educated in the screaming consequences of compulsive drinking. The whole reason she went to rehab in the first place was because she drove drunk with her actual daughter in the car, crashed, and her daughter died in the ensuing fire. Which, by the way, is the third worst type of drunken cooking. Wait, or is it the first? Damn you, drunken writing!

Anyway, upon being entrusted with the care of another child, Jackie immediately got drunk as part of her investigation into the consequences of drinking.

Like I said earlier, Jackie should have fallen through a trap door and gotten disemboweled. But where was the freaking trap door operator? He had ONE JOB.

Speaking of the trap door operator, he is generally able to be everywhere all the time because he uses Havenhurst’s trap doors like teleporters. He’s like that annoying Mortal Kombat character, Quan’Chi, who can just drop on peoples’ heads from off-screen anytime he wants.

Here he is literally getting the drop on Jackie:

His physical appearance is pretty incongruous with the rest of the movie. 

The first thing that jumps out at you, after he jumps out at you, is the fact that he's really pale.

I get it, he doesn’t get out much. He lives in walls. He’s pale. But what’s with the weird harness and the metal looking…

Bah gawd, King! That's Quan’Chi's music! What's he doing here?!

Oh my god. The bad guy IS Quan Chi.

You really can get anybody to be in these straight-to-Netflix horror movies. 

Questions for Paul:

JD:  What kind of camera was Danielle using?  Is that really a camera someone could be expected to take everywhere with them?  Was Danielle killed for being a hipster?  Do we have Havenhurst all wrong?

PH:  The camera doesn't make the artist.  What makes the artist is having the vision to choose as your subject the wall in the room in which you are sitting.  And then to frame and hang your picture of the wall on said wall.  You have to wonder, did she return to her couch with a sense of satisfaction, kicking up her feet on the coffee table, looking at the wall that is now adorned with a picture of itself and saying, "I loved the look of the picture-less wall so much that I took a picture of it and hung it on the wall so I'll never forget what it looked like before I hung this picture of it on it"?

And yes, we have Havenhurst all wrong.

JD:  Speaking of which, what is Havenhurst's business model?

PH:  It's a long ramp.  First you rent out all your apartments for free.  Then you evict them.  Then you kill them.  Do this long enough until you get full buy-in from your employees.  And then build a strong supportive corporate culture.  Aggressively pursue market share.  Reduce overhead by building trapdoors.  You're the one that went to business school and you're asking me?

JD:  Which brother would you rather be?  The one who lives in the walls?  Or the one who cleans the walls?

PH:  Neither is really the career of my dreams, you know?  But I'd have to say that the cleaning of the walls seems more like a standard entry level gig.  Whereas living in the walls means forgoing entries entirely and has a really limited potential for advancement.

JD:  Who would have been a scarier alternative dungeon denizen: Goro or Shao Kahn?

PH:  Hold on, got to look them up. . . Ok, got it.  Goro has four arms but only three fingers on each hand.  Shao Kahn has got some vicious epaulettes.  The question is, which of them seems more like a violent teetotaler?  Maybe Goro?  He probably has all sorts of problems holding drinks with his stubby three fingers yet is asked all the time to hold other people's drinks.

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