When I first read the premise for A HAUNTING AT PRESTON CASTLE, I was ready to roll my eyes and sigh. The overall concept is not a new one by any means, and some fans of the horror genre might even say it has been overdone to the point of absurdity. But, ever the optimist, I decided to give this on a look anyway; after all, sometimes you can find a true gem amidst all the duds, right? Unfortunately, this film does not bring anything new to the table, nor does it even shine among the hundreds of haunted-building titles on the market today. Even so, it does have a few scares and some intensity that carries through to the end.
If you are not familiar with A HAUNTING AT PRESTON CASTLE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Inception Media Group:
When Liz (Mackenzie Firgens) returns home on a college break, her best friend Ashley (Heather Tocquigny) coaxes her out for a rendezvous with ex-boyfriend Danny (Jake White) at PRESTON CASTLE, an abandoned boys correctional institute with a gruesome past. What begins as a dare for the three teens seeking weekend excitement, turns into a grisly nightmare as they try to escape an evil presence still lurking on the terrifying grounds. As they probe the decaying depths and shadows of PRESTON CASTLE, they find themselves in deeper and deeper trouble with no way out from the maze of rooms and locked doors. Trapped inside, they’re caught in a horrifying life and death struggle with the unstoppable evil. Will they all survive the night? Based on real events.
I was hoping this film would be much more than it is. Sadly, it’s just a rehashing of the same things we’ve already seen: teens go into a building rumored to be haunted, bad things happen, the lights go out, and then everybody disappears in one way or another. That’s pretty much it. Granted, that’s the formula for MANY horror movies…but I am looking for something more unique.
A HAUNTING AT PRESTON CASTLE is shot well for the most part, however I do have to comment on the not-so-subtle use of zooming in on two characters while they are in the middle of their dialogue. I’m not sure what the reasoning is behind this, but it happens several times in the film. If it’s meant to be artistic, it’s not…it’s simply annoying more than anything else.
The acting is so-so, with a mediocre cast that can’t decide whether or not to like each other. I think this is my biggest problem with the characterizations. At first, they’re all buddy-buddy. But when they reach the castle, the two girls quickly turn into hateful wenches, while the guy turns into a piddling wuss. This complete reversal made me go “Huh?” and then lose all interest into whether or not the characters survived.
The special effects in A HAUNTING AT PRESTON CASTLE are not too bad, although they look cheap in certain places when compared to other films. Still, they are a big reason for the few jump-scenes that occur. I actually smiled once, after one of these images startled me when I wasn’t expecting it. This small fright was a nice break from the tedium of watching the characters bicker at each other.
A HAUNTING AT PRESTON CASTLE is nothing you have not seen before if you are a horror fan, and the few surprises it does contain are not enough to carry it as a heavyweight fright flick. While it’s not the worst film I’ve seen this year, I am not recommending it, unless this kind of movie is your thing. It is available now in a variety of formats if you choose to take a chance on it.