From the ‘Based on a true story’ files of horror, low-budget indie flick The Haunting of Julia Fields surfaced on Tubi earlier this year. In all likelihood, we can take the ‘true story’ with something of a grain of salt. Don’t confuse this 2023 release with the 70s British supernatural horror, The Haunting of Julia, starring Mia Farrow. Though it’s been kicking around on Tubi for a few months now, there’s not much buzz or information around this release.
Following a nasty breakup with her boyfriend, Julia Fields decides to move out on her own for the first time. Without telling friends, she hops in her car and drives down to Florida and sets up in a rental home. Though she’s initially put off by her creepy landlord, Julia almost immediately falls in love with having her own place. After a few nights, however, she hears strange noises from the attic above. With each passing night, strange visions and nightmares increasingly haunt her. Soon Julia questions whether her new home is hiding a dark secret.
The Haunting of Julia Fields Finds a Few Early Moments in its Micro-Budget
Straight out of its opening scenes, The Haunting of Julia Fields is clearly a micro-budgeted effort. Writer and director Joseph Mazzaferro has several credits to his name – none of them stand out as familiar. What he delivers here feels rather conventional albeit with some early potential. If you’ve seen any movie with ‘haunting’ in the title, Mazzaferro doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel. Expect a handful of red herrings including the shady landlord, an ex-boyfriend who sort of wont’ stop texting, and a random guy with balloons on the beach. Throw in some unexplained noises in the attic and a ghostly hooded figure in the shadows and there’s at least some intrigue.
If you’ve seen any movie with ‘haunting’ in the title, Mazzaferro doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel.
In addition, The Haunting of Julia Fields does have a handful of moments that offer mild scares. One early scene finds Mazzaferro making good use of the corner of the screen and quietly inserting the ghostly hooded figure. A handful of nightmare scenes stick their landing and generate at least some scares. And a few neon-drenched moments feel a bit Giallo-inspired, hinting at some style behind the camera. These early moments, however, don’t translate to a bigger payoff or even a consistent grasp on atmosphere.
The Haunting of Julia Fields Buried By An Underdeveloped and Occasionally Illogical Screenplay
Unfortunately, The Haunting of Julia Fields can’t build on its early promise. Before too long the supernatural thriller spins its wheels, alternating between recycling early scares and long stretches of nothing. Mazzaferro struggles to pace his thriller and the story quickly becomes stagnant. Instead of ramping things up towards a finale, The Haunting of Julia Fields limps across the finish line. For most of its runtime, this supernatural thriller is more dull than scary. Young actress Callie Grayson, playing the title character, offers enough natural charisma to encourage at least some audience engagement. As the sketchy landlord, Austin Janowsky lacks the range to truly feel menacing.
For most of its runtime, this supernatural thriller is more dull than scary.
Arguably, the biggest problem haunting The Haunting of Julia Fields is Mazzaferro’s confused and undercooked screenplay. Some ideas are introduced and quickly discarded, while other plot points surface randomly without context or explanation. The texting ex-boyfriend isn’t so much a red herring as he is a forgotten plot thread. And the ‘balloon guy’ doesn’t seem to have any purpose other than to set up a contrived final twist. None of the supernatural imagery connects to the third act twist. And illogical decision-making and story gaps need to exist to propel things forward. A glaring typo in…
The Haunting of Julia Fields Offers Too Little For a Full Recommendation
Yes, The Haunting of Julia Fields is a low-budget indie effort. To his credit, Joseph Mazzaferro squeezes out some tension and a handful of eerie visuals in the early going. And Callie Grayson acquits herself well despite a lack of experience. Nevertheless, Mazzaferro runs out of ideas quickly and, as a result, the thriller spins its wheels for most of the second half. Chief among its problems, The Haunting of Julia Fields lacks a developed story, often lapses into illogical territory, and suffers from some glaring errors.