By Peter Killip.
An evening that began with “Alien Vs Predator”, followed up with found footage barrel scraper “Grave Encounters” and settled down with Peter Medak’s 1980 release “The Changeling” ( not to be confused with Clint Eastwood’s one…….because that’s shit.), and this is definitely more my tempo . Telling the story of a father who survives a car accident that leaves his wife and child for dead, wanting to put himself back into his work, composer John Russell ( George C. Scott) moves away and rents a decidedly creepy mansion to lose himself for a while, unaware of the events that had previously occurred .
Sounds cliche don’t it? And here’s the thing, it’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before, any of James Wan’s output of the last 5 years alone echoes what we see here, that’s before we get into “Don’t Look Now” comparisons and by the time paranormal investigators are called in, it could be flirting with parody. But it’s not, taken for what it is at straight faced value, an eloquent love letter to the genre at its purest is where it’s heart lies. Everything about this screams a love of classical ghost stories from the brilliantly haunting score and the dusty surroundings to the wide camera angles managing the ability to turn anything in the house into a figure of fear ( haunted wheelchair anyone?).
This shares the genre D.N.A. with films like Robert Wise’s “The Haunting” , Jack Clayton’s “The Innocents” and more recently J.A. Bayona’s “The Orphanage” than any of the trope laden fare of late that finds itself overly reliant on a found footage, Grand Guignol or torture porn crutch. This is a moment in time, captured in genre idealism. Watch it alone and let it creep over you.
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