The Haunting of North 3rd Street (2007)
Directed by: Jon Hyers
Premise: A documentary film about supposed supernatural experiences of the Hyers family at a house in St. Peter, Minnesota. The film interviews the members of the family and takes their testimonials while also dramatizing the events with actors.
What Works: The music of the film is very effective when it’s not too overbearing. The film has a compelling story to tell and manages to create a credible sense of drama and convey the growing threat to the family from what they believe to be a poltergeist.
What Doesn’t: The Haunting of North 3rd Street is a very modest film and ought to be judged on slightly more lenient criteria than what is afforded to a well-funded Hollywood film. But even given this leniency, the film has a lot of amateurish qualities. The film cross cuts between the documentary interviews and the dramatization and does not do it very well. The dramatization is very poor; the acting is wooden, the editing is uneven, the dialogue is inane, the staging of scenes is mostly dull and stagnant. The crosscutting also makes the film much worse by dragging things out. The film slips into a pattern of explaining the events through interviews with the witnesses and then immediately dramatizing the event almost exactly as it was just explained. If the film is going to crosscut between the two components, it ought to do that more tightly, overlapping the narration with the image. The graphics of the film look very amateurish, as though they were designed for a PowerPoint presentation rather than a feature film. Throughout the film there is a big disconnect between the visuals and the story. The family repeatedly states that they never saw a ghost or a specter but the film constantly includes special effects of supernatural beings. The film also claims that a murder took place in the home, trying to link the haunting with the crime, but the family members admit that they were never able to verify that any crime took place. Yet, the film spends an extended sequence dramatizing a murder. Lastly, as a documentary, the film has serious credibility problems. It was directed by one of the members of the family and does not include anyone with an outside perspective.
Bottom Line: The Haunting of North 3rd Street looks more like a rough cut of a film rather than a finished product. Although it has some potential, the film needs to be re-cut before it can be considered a good film and even then the credibility issue hangs over its head. The film will be interesting for locals but as a piece of cinema it is simply not that impressive.
Episode: #163 (October 28, 2007)