The Haunting of Julia Fields (2023) Movie Review – Dull Paranormal Tubi Horror
A young woman from a small town moves out on her own for the first time only to realize something sinister lurking inside her new home.
Welcome to Knockout Horror. Today we are reviewing Tubi Paranormal horror movie The Haunting of Julia Fields. Now I know what you might be thinking. Not more crap from Tubi? And I get it, we took a little break suggesting that there might be light at the end of the terrible horror tunnel. But I think I might actually have a serious problem. Every time I notice something that I haven’t seen before. I can’t help but check it out.
You would think that I would learn. I mean, it’s not as if many of these Tubi horror movies have turned out to be very good. But I guess I am just a sucker for punishment. Today’s movie is less of the terrible and more of the “meh”. The Haunting of Julia Fields follows the story of a young woman moving across the country to a new home in Florida. Only to begin experiencing strange goings on in her new home. Is the home haunted or is it all in her head?
Is The Haunting of Julia Fields a True Story?
This is a bit of a strange thing to address in a review but I can’t see myself writing an ending explained for this movie so here we are. The Haunting of Julia Fields opens up with a claim that it is “based on a true story”. This is, obviously, going to turn viewer’s heads a little and garner some interest. Especially given what takes place in the movie itself. The question is, though, is it really based on a true story? The unsatisfying and rather annoying answer is no, it isn’t.
This is something that a lot of horror movie makers are doing at the moment. Claim a story is true to bring extra eyes to your product. After all, people love true stories. Outback and Chest are two recent examples that I can think of off the top of my head but there are many more. The unfortunate truth is that anybody can make this claim. It is hard to disprove, even with a story as elaborate as the one being told here. When challenged, the makers can always claim that only a small part of the movie was based on a true story. Giving them an easy get out if the subject was ever approached.
The events which take place in this movie aren’t a million miles away from reality with regards to the ending. Excluding the paranormal stuff, of course. But there is no well known Julia Fields outside of an octogenarian poet from the US and no case that fits the profile of this movie. At least not one that I can find and not one that is cited by the writers. Treat the claim as flavour text and nothing more.
A Dull Paranormal Horror
Everything about The Haunting of Julia Fields feels incredibly familiar. This is your typical, run of the mill, paranormal horror that does nothing new and takes no risks. Everything you would expect to see in a haunted house movie is here. Scratching at the ceiling? Check. Things hiding in closets? Check. Strange shadows in the background haunting the protagonist? Check. This is a movie that is happy to take liberties with horror cliche.
The Haunting of Julia Fields does attempt to differentiate itself from similar movies in a couple of ways. One of which being its claim that it is based on a true story, as we talked about above. And another being the constant use of red herrings to keep the viewer guessing. This movie throws almost every single possible cliche explanation for the events taking place at the viewer. Could it be mental illness? Is it an actual haunting? Is the character being stalked? Could certain characters be up to no good or is it a combination of all these things?
Messy and a Bit Convoluted
It becomes clear, very quickly, that the writer will do anything they can to keep you guessing. The problem is, none of it gels together very cohesively. Joseph Mazzaferro’s chaotic storytelling presents us with a smorgasbord of different story elements all competing for attention. To be honest, the plot is messy and a bit convoluted. There’s too many things going on to create a neat and tidy narrative.
You can’t just throw a ton of radically different plot elements together and hope that it works. It just leads to a mess of human drama, paranormal goings on and straight up creepy stalker shit. None of which is well fleshed out and none of which works particularly well together.
I couldn’t help but feel like the Mazzaferro didn’t even know how the movie would end until he pulled it out of a hat; it is that random. The ending represents a coming together of all the rather disparate events of the movie. Leading to a baffling conclusion that begs the questions “how the fuck did it come to this?”. Much of what happens is illogical and poorly explained.
Just Not Very Scary
On top of these issues, The Haunting of Julia Fields simply isn’t very scary. It repeatedly visits the well of horror cliche and comes back with mediocre offerings that aren’t particularly effective when done well. Never mind when they are obviously projected and go on for too long. It is so easy to guess when a scare is coming up and so easy to predict how the scenario will play out. There is no inventiveness here with the movie being far too content to rely on tried and tested horror tropes of old.
The sheer number of different elements at play here don’t do the movie any favours when it comes to scares. There are so many different things going on and so many potential threats. That there is almost too many things to focus on diluting the threat to our protagonists significantly. It would be remiss of me to not mention how bad some of the costume work is here, as well. If I said “cheap Halloween store suit” you might get an idea of what I mean. It looks terrible and provokes laughs rather the desired feeling of shock or fear.
Typically Low Budget
The Haunting of Julia Fields is a typically low budget feeling horror. Camera work is rather lacklustre and every shot feels horribly washed out. Colours are under-saturated and there is a distinct grayness to everything that makes the movie feel a bit gloomy. Locations are limited and I wasn’t overly impressed by the beach scenes. How do you manage to find such a crappy looking beach in Florida? It reminded me of some of the beaches we have here in North Wales. The weather was overcast and muggy to boot, really giving everything that “filmed in the UK” feel.
Acting from Callie Grayson as Julia is a bit of a mixed bag. She is a bit stiff and a bit uncomfortable at times. As the movie goes on, she seems to lose her motivation considerably. Resorting to one facial expression for much of the movie’s length. I feel like this might be inexperience more than anything, though. She does a good job in a number of scenes and probably just needs more room to grow. She has plenty of moments where she feels very natural and convincing.
Austin Janowsky, on the other hand, as Sam is a lot more awkward. He has some moments that seriously made me think of The Room and other similar movies featuring wooden acting. He just seems so uncomfortable and unsure of how he is supposed to deliver his lines. It’s genuinely a bit distracting at times. Jess Gluzband, as Julia’s friend, is far better. Seeming confident and comfortable and doing a generally decent job.
Final Thoughts and Score
The Haunting of Julia Fields isn’t offensively bad. It’s just a bit of a boring paranormal horror movie that doesn’t do anything new. It throws a ton of different horror tropes in the pot with a bunch of cliches like mental illness, stalking, and ghosts. Only to attempt to bring them together in a cohesive ending that, in actual fact, makes little sense.
The things here just don’t gel together well and when you add that together with a lack of scares, poor camera work and some wooden acting. There just isn’t that much to recommend. If you are not too picky, you may find something to enjoy. The story is, at least, somewhat interesting. It just doesn’t work that well in the grand scheme of things.