The Haunting of Helena

Newly divorced, Sophia (Harriet MacMasters-Green) moves with her young daughter, Helena (bland first-timer Sabrina Jolie Perez), to one of those incredible old apartment buildings in south Italy. In the basement, Helena takes a fancy to an armoire with deep scratch marks on the doors’ insides, so they have it moved into the girl’s room.

In a car crash the two are lucky to survive, Helena loses her first tooth and is oddly adamant about getting it back. Another tooth soon follows, and the girl becomes positively obsessed with bicuspids and canines and incisors and molars, going so far as to purchase her classmates’ discarded ones like normal kids once did with Pokémon cards. Because the girl does that movie thing with the Crayolas, you know Helena has a new pal in the form of an old ghost.

And that’s the problem: You know every move this Haunting will make before it makes it, right down to the final shot. The Italian setting makes for wonderful atmosphere, which co-directors Christian Bisceglia and Ascanio Malgarini capitalize upon in establishing their picture’s chilly mood; the good-looking setup is for naught, as this story has been done to death. Most stories have, which is why you have to offer something fresh to keep their staleness from showing. —Rod Lott

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Rod Lott

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