Wednesday, October 30, 2013

FILM -- The Haunting of Helena

Written by Maynard Morrissey
Alternate Title:

Directors: Christian Bisceglia and Ascanio Malgarini
Italy, 2012


I've said it before and I say it again: after years and years of inactivity, Italy is finally back on the horror map with lots and lots of young and creative filmmakers. The filmmakers are shooting all kinds of horror-themed shorts and features while combining classic Italian horror tropes with contemporary horror. Why, you may ask? Hm, maybe it has something to do with the country's massive financial crisis, or the end of Berlusconi's long era of retarded politics? I don't know. All I know is that there is currently something awesome going on in Italy, and I can't wait to see more new, fresh Italo-horror stuff - like this one!

"The Haunting Of Helena" is an excellently creepy and wonderfully old-fashioned supernatural horror flick about a single mother and her daughter Helena who both get terrorized by the tooth-fairy-like ghost of a woman whose husband murdered her by pulling out all her teeth and locking her in a wardrobe where she miserably bled to death...

Don't get fooled by the term "tooth fairy"! The basic premise may be a bit similar to films like "Darkness Falls" or "The Tooth Fairy", but the film as a whole is a completely different monster, dealing with the Italian Malaria plague during the 20s and 30s, and dicator Mussolini's "Battle of the Swamps" in the Pontine Marshes, as well as with topics like fascism, divorce or mental alienation.

Script and direction are tight, the pacing is brisk, Antonello Emidi's ("A Midsummer Night's Dream") is beautiful, at times pretty Argento-esque, and Michele Joasi's violin-driven score is just ace. There's lots of highly effective jump scares and gripping suspense sequences, some nice gore and many gruesome teeth scenes. Highlights: a terrifying "teeth rain", and a "Phenomena"-like insect attack.
Also, very solid performances by Harriet MacMasters-Green (what a name!), Sabrina Jolie Perez as Helena and Paolo Paoloni ("Cannibal Holocaust").

During watching, I was close to give the movie a 7/10 due to some weak CGI and a few flawed and unnecessary plot points, but then I got to the ending which blew me away with its gobsmacking and unforeseeable twists, and so I just had to give it a 8/10.

I have a history of enjoying certain supernatural flicks that everyone seems to hate except me, for example "Psalm 21" or "Case 39".

"The Haunting Of Helena" already got some really terrible reviews on Imdb, and to some extent I can understand the reviewers - but... well, I can't help it: I had a damn great time with this film!


  1. I've been wanting to rent this.. I've been... up in the air about it.. going back and forth... Maybe.... Tonight? Who knows... I need to get my HORROR MOVIES in before the men of the house get BORED and ANGRY with me.

    1. No need to go back and forth. Just go see it... and watch your teeth ;)

  2. Having teeth drop out or crumble is supposed to be one of the most common universal dreams people have. It must have some kind of primal symbolism, so a great starting point for a horror movie, I would have thought. Good to know you enjoyed it, Maynard! :)

    1. I had so many tooth-operations in my life, I'm traumatized for life, and shit like that never fails to scare me :)

  3. Hey - Maynard! You are everywhere! Excellent review! I'm interested to see this one! Thanks for hosting The Reviewing Machine for this post, RQoH!

  4. Oooh definitely going to find myself a copy of this one :)