Ghost stories are something of a hard sell these days. With the return of the found footage format, ghost movies are usually only shown in theatres when the camera is bobbing and weaving at a disorienting rate. The scares start to become predictable and boring as all hell. Thankfully, Armenian director Aik Karapetian’s horror film The Man in the Orange Jacket is a return to the classic haunted house horror movie with not a single found footage shot in sight.
Filmed in Latvia, The Man in the Orange Jacket follows a young man named Dan (Maxim Lazerev) who has recently been fired from his job. Angry and bitter over his dismissal, Dan stalks his former employer (Aris Rozentals) and his employer’s beautiful wife (Anta Azupe). After hunting them down, he takes up residence in their resplendent mansion and attempts to live a lavish lifestyle. However, Dan soon learns that he is being stalked by a mysterious specter. This violent spirit wonders the halls, occasionally manipulating what the young man sees and hears the entire time.
The Man in the Orange Jacket is every bit a haunted house film. It ratchets ups its scares over time, slowly revealing the mysterious horrors that are alive within the house. The mansion is as much as a character as Dan is. Its rooms are bone white, but not overly creepy or foreboding. It’s more modern looking than one might expect for a mansion haunted with vengeful ghosts. This stark simplicity serves to add to the terror. Much like the protagonist, there’s an unfeeling coldness to the place that is unrelenting. There’s no real warmth. Chilled tiled floors echo with each footstep, and long tall white walls are home to shadows as the sun slowly dips down overtime. No cobwebs or creepy dead-eye dolls to stare back at you here. No, the horror in this house can be found in the immaculately clean underground stone pantry and open foyer.
Karapetian chooses to not give any of the characters names, with the exception of the protagonist. This might create a bit of a disconnect for some viewers, especially with Dan being such a detestable human being to begin with. For most of the movie, it’s a one man show. Dan wonders the halls of his “home” and makes play as a man of great wealth. After spending enough time with him, audience’s disgust and contempt for Dan will only grow with more intensity. He’s a selfish pig whose fantasies of murder and necrophilia make him only more of a target for the house’s vengeance.
The film is also brutally violent, especially in the first act. Murder, rape, torture and mutilation are all on display in this movie. The camera doesn’t shy away from even the most horrific of images. Deaths by stabbing and torture are slow, and may even be a little drawn out. Dan partakes in most of these acts, which only provides more reasons for the audience to despise him.
In any case, The Man in the Orange Jacket is a very entertaining watch that will keep you captivated from beginning to end. It offers plenty of scares, mystery and the possibility of future discussions about what really happened long after the credits have rolled. It definitely deserves at least one viewing to experience a proper horror movie.