Director Byron Turk’s The Bates Haunting film plays more of a mystery with horror themed undertones, thanks to screenwriters Sean Skinner and J.L. Stremberg (Altar Boy (2015)) focus the script on the character Agnes Rickover (Jean Louise O’Sullivan) who also stars in Stremberg’s previously mentioned film. Although, before discussing the movie in detail, it is not without real life tragedies, Ryan Dunn who had a minor role, was killed in an automobile accident, Rocco A. Amato (Manager Milton) passed away both unrelated to the production, but deceased before the release of the movie.
Although, the film presents itself a low-budget slasher with an unknown cast, it compromises of a terrific real set, a haunted house attraction and hayride in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania sadly, the site does not translate positively and consistently to the actual movie. A rule in horror films is to let the location or the object speak volumes, such as Psycho (the house towers over everything, appears to look down on others) to Christine the car takes over repeatedly. This real location is no different, first a real place, with history and second it is a functioning haunted attraction, with built in actors, who know how to perform, use it to your advantage. As the movie opens, Agnes attends the event to see her best friend perform, only to die from a malfunctioning dragonhead, and while no one believes foul play Agnes, it sends her into a downward spiral. The cure from her parents and therapist, return to the haunted attraction and work there in the new Halloween season, hence dealing with both the death and her own depression. A tad deep for the average slasher mystery film, though, quite logical and practiced in real life situations in many positions, hence a slice of refreshing creative writing. The new season brings the same results only more gruesome, as O’Sullivan, conveys a Nancy Drew investigation, as the new crop of workers seek off for private romances and a bumper crop of gore-hound happy deaths. The event seems to resemble scenes of real murders acted out as the customers ride by, all in plain site that appears very intense for the frenzy fans, if acting out a scene from the Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000).
The haunted house sub-genre, continually gets revisited by filmmakers, each trying to capitalize on the suspense and thrills of Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse (1981), many have tried, from the successful ventures of Scream Park (2012) and Scare Zone (2009) to the lesser known House of Fears (2007). Nevertheless, the sub-genre breeds a new version that entices fans to window shop, all waiting for the shock and awe of a chilling, thrilling, scary ride, which brings the fun of Scare Tactics.
Another sad point to the movie, which reflects in only a 76-minute run time, which either means the production costs had a tight controlling limitation or that film could not squeeze out 14 minutes, most likely the script ran the course and died before the finishing line. The film tries to disguise itself, stumbles across multiple genres, while trying to appeal to Psycho fans with the name, and mask the mystery inside a thriller wrapped in horror slasher costume which is just too much occurring for the fans, choosing a path would have suited the film, and cast better, and understanding the viewers, if aiming for the teenage market which slasher films teen to appeal, then a mystery doesn’t work, it takes too long to develop for the attention time. Turk’s skill for directing, can only improve as this was his debut, and yet he does know his way on the set, serving as camera-personnel to a producer on the reality show Storm Chasers, should have used all the attractions on the site. The Bates Motel, The Haunted Hayride and Haunted Corn Maze, all exist in real life, however perhaps due to legal reasons the area is limited to mainly outdoor locations.
The concept of Turk’s The Bates Haunting, had solid footing for a starting point, sadly the ride never played up to the real life reputation of the actual attraction. Halloween attractions that grant permission to use their facility must use it to fullest point, taking advantage of everything they use and offer, from the built in scares and the cast to even the crew, all-cheap for horror movie. The recommendation is to definitely watch for the disgusting harvester scene, but don’t judge the ride by this film do that in person.