DIRECTOR: Alastair Orr
Steven John Ward
A group of kidnappers decide to kidnap a young woman from her parents home. The group hope that they can get her parents to pay a nice ransom to get their daughter back. After taking her to an abandoned warehouse, they soon realise that something isn't right with this young woman. The young woman holds a very dark secret within her, and they will quickly regret ever kidnapping her.
When I first began to watch From A House On Willow Street. I honestly knew nothing about this film whatsoever. What caught my eye was the rather excellent and retro-y looking poster for the film. So not hearing anything about this film, it made me think this may have been a festival film and looking up information about it, I can see that it played at several film festivals in the latter half of 2016. I also didn't watch any of the trailers for the film, so I was completely blind as to what to expect.
The last time I watched Sharni Vinson in a film was the excellent home invasion flick, You're Next. So seeing her appear in the first scene of From A House On Willow Street was a lovely surprise. I just hoped that this time around, she wasn't playing the same sort of role. I wanted to see her do something or branch out other than the switch up tough girl roles who kick some ass in the third act. Luckily, her character is flawed for the first and second act.
This is a movie that feels like two completely different films. The first half of the film is rather enjoyable. We have a kidnapper and captor storyline that had me intrigued on where the direction of the movie was going to head. I really thought that it was cleverly handled in the beginning. I was on edge for the first act as we aren't given things immediately. Things slowly unravel, and we get little glimpses of horror and things to come. Nothing is handed to the audience which I was enjoying early on.
Once we start getting glimpses of the ghostly happenings, I was getting a real Event Horizon sort of feel and vibe from it. Not in the sense that space is horrifying but the whole group starting to see visions of their dead loved ones suffering in hell. From A House On Willow Street does the same sort of thing in the second act and I thought some of those scenes were actually pretty scary. Our kidnapped victim is clearly not as innocent as it appears and bizarre things start happening.
When it's finally revealed that our kidnapped victim is much eviler than any of these captors had anticipated, things start getting really silly and formulaic. I do enjoy that they tried to introduce a demon and mythology into the story, but once it's revealed, I thought it turned into a run of the mill monster flick. The entire third act and the way the story wraps itself up felt like I had seen this all before. Some silly visually effects and eye roll moments involving a ghostly protector also didn't do these final minutes any favours.
The acting in this movie rests solely on our two leading actresses shoulders. Sharni Vinson and Carlyn Burchell. All the male actors in the movie while having significant roles in the film aren't very memorable. This is female heavy, driven horror. I loved when our two female characters were interacting with each other. I thought the final showdown was a little routine and something I've witnessed before but while it has been done to death in horror still overshadowed most of the stuff involving the male characters in the story.
I think on a scary level, the first half of the movie was pretty intense. I was on edge during the kidnapping scene. The return to the parent's house that revealed a slightly dark twist was also creepy. We even have a scene with a photo on a wall that played pretty well. Once the monster elements in the third act start to happen, it sort of lost me on the suspense front. I'm sure the creepy visions and ghosts will have some of you people jumping out of your skin, though.
Lastly, regarding gore and violence, this isn't an overly violent film. We have a few nasty looking ghosts. Some pretty gross dead corpses and some tentacle trauma. Other than that, the film really isn't all that bloody. The red stuff is delivered, but I was expecting more in this film. I think this film tries more for suspense and scares than it does, in your face gore and violence. Most horror fans should be happy with what's on display in the film.
DEATH TOLL: 8
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Blood covered ghosts.
- A corpse is shown with a shard of glass in its face.
- A man is shown bleeding from the eyes.
- Someone is shot with metal balls.
- A demon is set on fire.
- Two demons are burnt to death.
- A tentacle is shoved down someone's throat.
- Someone shoots themselves in the head.
- Garden instruments are thrown into a priest.
- Someone's body is stabbed and left under a staircase.
- Two bodies are shown rotting in bed with maggots.
From A House On Willow Street is a movie that I didn't know anything about before watching it. I hadn't heard much at all about the film. The film felt like two different films to me. The first half plays it straight. We have kidnapping, captors and creepy going-ons. Where I thought the movie loses its way was in the second half where it becomes a run of the mill monster movie. Some dodgy visuals also drag these later scenes down. Some solid performances can't drag this movie over the finish line.