“In the cold, wintery fields of New England, a lonely old house wakes up every thirty years – and demands a sacrifice.” — IMDb
I watched this movie last night, with my husband and pup snoring next to me, and had high hopes of being creeped out beyond belief while being the only person awake in the house. And at first, this movie succeeded. It has a creeping, atmospheric beginning — really highlighting the desolation of New England in the winter — and some truly good jump scares along with just a general sense of tension, though you aren’t sure why. More than once I said “NO THANKS” out loud as some shadowy figure lurked behind Anne (Barbara Crampton). Her loss seemed palpable initially and I thought it set the movie up for some deep emotion amidst some truly creepy shit happening, particularly with her obvious desperation for their son, Bobby, to still be with them.
The movie was set in the 70’s which, in my opinion, they made a little too obvious at times. It wasn’t really necessary for any part of the plot, but it was a small but welcome difference. I also appreciated that the main characters were older, grieving parents moving into a new home to get away from the pain surrounding their son’s accident and subsequent death rather than a picture-perfect couple in their 30’s with two kids and a dog. But that’s about where it ended for me.
Pretty soon the stiff and sometimes over-the-top cheesy acting of the main characters really chipped away at the darkness it held at the beginning. I know that may have been intentional on the director’s part to play some kind of homage to some classic 70’s horror, but damn. Before long you’re informed that the house has a gruesome history and, surprise, the couple is not deterred and somehow only mildly weirded out by their neighbor, in no unclear terms, telling them to GET OUT. They invite their friends, May and Jacob — who are known for being spiritual — to feel the house out, but it’s almost as if Anne only wants to hear that Bobby, their deceased son, is the presence she feels, and anything else she dismisses as though May is blabbering nonsense.
They did a fairly good job at showing just enough of the spirits at first to freak you out without going over the top, but that ends as well, and at some point they’re just straight up walking through the house (though I did appreciate their charred, ashy appearance), which kind of takes away any sense of mystery. Jacob, played by Larry Fessenden, even manages to botch a possession scene — which for me almost ALWAYS sends chills up my spine — with his lack of any subtlety. This movie that started off very minimally spooky descends quickly into what I thought was a very stereotypical and boring plot with not much explanation for much of it until the ending credits rolled and some unnecessary gore (the only death scene I appreciated was Anne killing the bartender with a fistful of knives).
I’ll give a plus to the very last line in the movie (the one thing I won’t spoil for you), since I thought it was a fairly awesome way to end it. But, ultimately, this movie just felt like a huge reach to me.
Rating: 3/10 | Director: Ted Geoghegan | Starring: Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie, Larry Fessenden, Monte Markham, Susan Gibney