How could a film with so much potential, such a reputable director, and the most terrifying trailer I have seen in a while fall so short of expectation?
Don’t get me wrong; it was still a good film, if you like tension building jumps and graphic violence. The main problem with it was that I think it was trying to be too clever. Scott Derrickson, the director and co-writer of this, and the only film to chill me to my very core – The Exorcism of Emily Rose – tried to make a horror film using every quintessential trope that the genre contains while still trying to make it scary. Unfortunately he failed.
Ellison, a washed up true crime writer, knowingly moves his family into a house that was the scene of several murders (even after several people tell him not to). He then has to suffer the consequences of unravelling the mysterious deaths, while being terrorised by something which, I won’t lie, looked like a cross between the V for Vendetta mask and the tribal ‘First Slayer’ from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
This, coupled with about every stupid mistake a character could ever make in a horror film, (e.g., moving your family into an ex-crimescene of unsolved murders, searching the attic during a blackout, getting friendly with the simple yet well-meaning cop who just wants to help), detract from an otherwise nail-biting thriller. This film really has it all. I was on the edge of my seat trying not to scream at the screen: “DON’T GO LOOKING FOR THE LOUD NOISES IN THE DARK!”. Has he not seen Scream?!
All in all, this film is for those of you who want to jump out of your skin, but still get a good 12 hours sleep at night. I would say about a “Ahhhhh”, on the scary scale and you may be a wee bit creeped out, but most horror movie fans will recognise the common pitfalls of the lead character, and those who don’t, will leave the cinema a little wiser.