• Haunting Of Helena, The



    Haunting Of Helena, The
    Released by: Salient Media
    Released on: September 17, 2013.
    Director: Christian Bisceglia, Ascanio Malgarini
    Cast: Harriet MacMasters-Green, Sabrina Jolie Perez
    Year: 2012
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    The Movie:

    Written by Christian Bisceglia who co-directed by Ascanio Malgarini, The Haunting Of Helena was shot in Italy and originally titled Fairytale (in fact it was released on DVD under that title by UK distributor Metrodome in the early weeks of this year). It tells the story of a single mother named Sophia (Harriet MacMasters-Green) and her young daughter Helena (Sabrina Jolie Perez) as they being to relocate and move to a new apartment.

    Not long after they arrive and settle in, Helena loses her first tooth. After this happens, she starts to see the tooth fairy at night. Her behavior becomes increasingly erratic and soon she’s acting out not only at home but at school as well. Sophia initially figures all of this is nonsense but as her daughter’s condition becomes more intense and she starts collecting the teeth of her classmates, a mother’s concern soon begins to turn to fear.

    Making excellent use of the European locations wherein the story is set, The Haunting Of Helena is a very slick looking movie. From the opening sequence in which we’re offered a hint as to the truth behind what’s really going on in the apartment through to the finale the compositions on the part of cinematographer Antonello Emidi are top notch. Complimenting this rather well is an appropriately somber score from composer Michele Josia that does a good job of adding to the movie’s atmosphere. On a technical level, outside of some minor but questionable effects pieces, there’s a lot to like here. We get ambience, we get mood and we get consistently appealing visuals. This film builds fairly slowly, it takes its time and creates some good tension. Those looking for fast paced action centric horror won’t take to this but the deliberate way in which the story unfolds does make the completely different style of the last twenty minutes or so all the more surprising. It’s in these later parts that the film becomes a more traditional horror movie, using some fairly effective albeit minor gore effects and some jump scares as well.

    As far as the acting goes, Harriet MacMasters-Green is pretty good in the lead role. As the story develops the concern that she shows for her daughter becomes more than understandable and through some interesting body language she definitely gives off the feeling of uneasiness you’d probably have in such a situation. Of course, this soon turns to fright and she handles that side of things as well. Young Sabrina Jolie Perez is a bit more limited in range but her character isn’t asked to show as much depth as that of her mother so she’s fine, if somewhat unremarkable in the part.

    This one turns out to be a decent watch if you don’t mind the slow burn pace or the fact that, yeah, we’ve seen a lot of this before. There are moments that remind you of older American horror movies, movies that remind you of classic Italian gothic horror movies and then there are moments that conjure up memories of more recent Japanese ghost pictures. These elements have been sort of blended together and spread out across the hour and half that makes up The Haunting Of Helena which results in a whole lot of familiarity where what you hope for is originality. It never quite gets there, but even still, it offers up a couple of worthy plot twists and definitely earns points in the style over substance department.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Haunting Of Helena arrives on DVD framed at 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen. This isn’t the most colorful movie ever made, much of it takes place indoors and a fair bit of that indoor footage is shot in low light conditions. As such, the color palette employed definitely leans towards the colder side of things. The transfer on the disc replicates that quite well, however, with only limited and minor compression artifacts in some of the darker scenes to quibble over. Detail is as good as the standard definition transfer can likely allow for while black levels stay solid. A good effort overall.

    The only audio option provided is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix with optional closed captioning provided in English. The 5.1 track is a good one, it has some solid atmosphere and properly balanced levels. There are no problems with hiss or distortion and surrounds are used well to help set the proper mood. Dialogue is clean, clear and easily discernible and the sound mix created for the movie works rather well here.

    Aside from a few previews and the requisite menus and chapter selection options, the disc includes a behind the scenes featurette that shows off what it was like on set. Additionally we get a segment that shows how some of the special effects used in the movie were created and a collection of brief cast and crew interviews.

    The Final Word:

    The Haunting Of Helena gets a pretty solid DVD release from Salient Media. It looks and sounds fine and contains a few extras. The movie itself? It’s got some issues but it does turn out to be worth a watch if you’re in the mood for a ghost story. It’s no modern classic and offers up a few too many clichés that are, at this point, past their prime but enough works here that fans of slow burn horror should give it a shot.