You know the cliché: the recovering alcoholic white-knuckling it as she stares down a bottle. In what might be the strongest moment of Andrew C. Erin's house-of-horrors film Havenhurst, Julie Benz upends that classic standoff. Fresh out of rehab, Benz's Jackie has tracked her friend Danielle to Havenhurst, a hotel that takes in recovering addicts and criminals provided they don't revert to their old habits. If they do, they're never seen again. Which is why, at a crucial moment, we see Jackie struggling to summon the courage not to abstain, but to cast away her tenuous sobriety in order to discover exactly what eviction entails.
Too bad the rest of the film betrays Benz's sharp performance. Jackie's alcoholism never again seems part of her present; she could be any gusty horror-movie heroine, and it could be any arbitrary offense that draws admonition from the hotel's spying matriarch (a haughty Fionnula Flanagan). Otherwise, Havenhurst is solidly constructed, if never as inventive as the hidden passages and deathtraps of the property itself. And of all the lilies to gild, why distract from the simple, sinister idea of a deadly hotel by adding, without sufficient explanation, a pale, superhuman brute to stalk its corridors? Some amenities aren't worth the upgrade.
Andrew C. ErinJulie Benz, Fionnula Flanagan, Belle Shouse, Josh Stamberg, Danielle Harris, Dendrie Taylor, Toby Huss, Douglas TaitAndrew C. Erin, Daniel FarrandsBrainstorm Media