'Haunted' is a powerfully dark drama

Thursday, April 15, 2010
Before his hit series 'Lost', Matthew Fox starred in the underappreciated 'Haunted' as Frank Taylor. (Courtesy of Phase 4 Films)

When I received 'Haunted' from Phase 4 films starring Matthew Fox in the mail recently, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. It's the complete series of a whopping 13 episodes and when I looked it up on the Internet, it was originally billed as a new "X-Files".

Being an X-phile, this statement was blasphemy and how good could a series be if it only survived just over a dozen episodes? Well let me tell you, 'Haunted' is a great series whose demise is something I can't figure out.

'Haunted', which debuted in 2002, follows private investigator Frank Taylor (Fox), a former police officer whose son was abducted and since his life has fallen apart. Driven by the guilt of not checking 'that bump in the night', Taylor is investigating a missing child case and in the process is killed.

Doctors bring him back to life, but he didn't come back alone. After his return from the other side, he's able to hear the voices of the dead that help guide him and help him solve the cases he's on.

Throughout the series, he's haunted by the spirit of the man he killed in the pilot episode who was one of the child's abductors.

The series has everything a person would want in a show. I know a lot of people that love "Ghost Whisperer" and "Haunted" is similar in many ways. But, "Haunted" is actually good.

The series is dark, with most every scene cloaked in shadows, but it gives "Haunted" that certain impending doom feeling that really makes it work.

Here's another television confession I have. I hate "Lost". I attempted to watch the series from the get go, but I never could get into it. So when I saw Party of Five alum Fox as the lead, I wasn't too impressed. But after watching the 13 episode series, I was more than impressed.

I saw an actor who was able to convey a wide array of emotions and pull off some nice, heavy scenes. Plus, Fox starred as Racer X in 'Speed Racer', so that man is A-OK in my book.

The only knock on the series would be a lack of depth in the supporting acting rolls. Russell Hornsby (Marcus), John Mann (Simon) and Lynn Collins (Jessica) do wonderful jobs, but when it goes beyond this core, the performances get very sketchy.

Going back to the "X-Files" comparison, I noticed that the pilot episode has some very Mulder-ish music in it and wouldn't you know it, the music for the series was provided no none other than Mark Snow. The music is definitely one of the strongest elements of the series.

The disc set comes with no bonus features, so that was a little disappointing. A commentary or two would have been nice, but the series itself is strong enough to hold its own.

With 'Lost' coming to an end, it would be great for a network like Syfy to resurrect this series and make it a hit. Again, if 'Ghost Whisperer' can last five seasons, there's no reason why this superior series couldn't have a more significant run.

Final Cut: While it's not in the same league at the "X-Files", 'Haunted' is a very engrossing series that should have had more life to it. The series is dark and dramatic, but most of all, it's has some very nice storylines. It also benefits greatly from Fox's performance.

4 out of 5 stars

Haunted (2-discs)

13 Episodes

Starring: Matthew Fox, Russell Hornsby, Lynn Collins, John Mann

Runtime: 460 minutes

Available now from Phase 4 Films.

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