Every horror aficionado has his or her weakness - something that will make them ignore all the signs of something deplorably bad and force them to throw caution to the wind. Some folks are into zombie films, some vampire ones. For me, it's the paranormal. Don't ask me why, because I couldn't tell you. That bug has been there for quite a while, but it seems to have intensified over the years, quite possibly because of the really satisfying output of fantastic fright films: The Innkeepers, The Pact, Lake Mungo, and pretty much anything James Wan has ever done not involving Jigsaw or race cars.
There is always an ongoing quest to discover that next great film that will get under the skin and cause a nice rash of chills. I always like to believe that just because a film doesn't have a huge budget or an intense marketing campaign that it's not capable of providing as spooky a time as those other films made by notable genre filmmakers.
Having watched A Haunting at Preston Castle, I can only say...that quest will have to continue. As generic a concept as one can get, a group of spunky teens break into the allegedly haunted Preston Castle with a video camera to chart the legendary abandoned building, and who knows, maybe even capture proof of the paranormal. Bad acting, immature directing, and one hollow script later, you end up with something that makes you wonder when people are going to stop trying the same old things over and over before they realize it's already been done by someone with far more talent, money, resources, and yeah, passion.
A Haunting at Preston Castle is nothing more than a collection of irritating performances, a formulaic concept, and unintentionally hilarious ghosts. The only saving grace (though it doesn't save anything) is the legitimately impressive and creepy Preston Castle, a real place in California that used to be a reform school until it closed its doors in 2010. Since then, it's sat abandoned, falling victim to the elements.
When a building getting old and crappy without any effort from anyone or anything is better than the script a filmmaker sat down to write, or the performances one hopes the actors were trying to nail, well...that's embarrassing.
Do you like young attractive casts? Point of view camera work? Friends jumping out from dark corners to scare each other? How about a lot of giggling? Teen girls saying the words "fuck" and "fucking"? Or them smacking gum as they point the camera right at their faces? Intensely, absurdly, unbelievably unlikable lead heroines?
If so, A Haunting at Preston Castle is for you.
If you're fourteen or under, bring your hiding blanket!
For everyone else, just stream Grave Encounters again.