Ever since I watched Misery and later read the book, I was afraid of becoming the writer in a horror story. They never seem to catch a break. Even artists and writers in Lovecraft’s fiction usually come to bad ends. Is it because writers tend to have open imaginations that cause them to be susceptible to the uncanny and horrific? Or is it because they are so darn needy that they people get sick of their whining and decide to off them? But I kid my fellow writers… a little. So it was with some trepidation that I watched a story about a writer who discovers a terrible secret in his new home.
Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a struggling writer who has just moved his family to a new home. He got the house for a steal and his hoping to write a blockbuster true crime book based on a murder that happened in this new town. Well more specifically in the back yard of the new house he just moved his family into. And more specifically, the whole family was hung from a tree in the back yard and the daughter went missing. So yeah Oswalt isn’t a little creepy for doing that.
During the move Oswalt finds a box in the attic that contains a super 8 projector and some home movies. He pops one of them in, and watches as the previous family has a good time… and then witnesses their death! The rest of the films area similar showing happy families being brutally killed. Oswalt finds clues uniting the deaths and starts digging deeper. With this source material he knows he’ll have a best seller for sure! But ominous things start happening. His son starts having night terrors. Oswalt starts hearing and seeing strange things in his home. And then he finds evidence that these murders may be tied to a cult worshiping a child-stealing creature. Is this delusion starting to break Oswalt’s grip on sanity or is there something more Sinister at work?
- Atmospheric and filled with a sense of impending doom
- Hawk gives an excellent performance as the complicated Oswalt
- Those murder films are disturbing and creepy as hell
- The overall mood is so dower and dreary it may turn some viewers off
- Works as a slow burn, those looking for quick thrills will be disappointed
- The revelation of the reason for the murders just didn’t quite click for me
This is a dark film, both visually and thematically. The whole movie is saturated with a shadowy creepiness that is unsettling. Hawke does a fine job creating a man we can sympathize with, even if we don’t like him. But what works is the combination of the mystery of the murders with the sense of doom that hangs over Hawk and his family. By moving into this house he has invited the evil into his family and that evil begins working. While I found the reason behind the evil to something less then compelling, I will say that the overall it is a disturbing and creepy ride. Not a fun horror film, but certainly a chilling one.
Scores (out of 5)
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