Haunters: The Art of the Scare
Haunters is a documentary that delves into a specific genre of the entertainment and attraction industry: haunted houses. Even more so, this documentary lifts the masks from the industry veterans, performers, and enthusiasts who have made it their mission to scare the crap out of other people for a living and thrusts them into a spotlight without their usual haunt attire. While the film does little in the way of revealing the inner workings of these attractions or analyzing their effects on their customers, it goes out of its way to introduce to us an eclectic cast of haunters who love scaring people for a diverse group of reasons.
More so than anything, the documentary puts a face on these frightful specters that stalk us through their shadowed halls. Inside a haunt, you may share only a few seconds of fright with this person, unaware of why or how that person under the mask got to be there with you. Haunters is the story of all those people, its the how and more importantly why. I myself don’t like to go through haunts, not because I’m afraid of being afraid. I understand the psychology of what a haunt represents and the instincts it preys upon. Flight or fight responses can go one of two ways and don’t like to needlessly poke that fight response. Thus, haunts have never really been for me. However, I have a better appreciation now for the people who choose to be there under the masks.
Haunters also raises some questions about the ever-escalating resilience of haunt fans and the resulting armistice race as some haunts have gone to even more extreme lengths to produce scares. The haunt community itself has become divided on the subject of these extreme haunts and the tension between the two sides is obvious, leading to a community still searching for ethical, moral, and even legal answers. Some of the footage from these extreme haunts can be quite upsetting, as you are witness to people confronting their real-life fears within the context of a very visceral situation they can only escape by enduring.
I was very pleasantly surprised by this documentary and would recommend it to any horror fan with a word of caution. Horror can be fun for people because they can confront their fears in a controlled situation. Watching that control ripped from other people could very well be too intense for some viewers.