Well first let me say personally that I like most horror films, even the bad ones! For the most part anyway! I mean not that I’m saying this horror is horrible because it’s not. Grant it the film has its moments, its twists and turns, mysteries, scare tactics and dramatic spooky music but being shot with one camera and not developing the main character, Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen), didn’t help the films cause. The camera fades from clear to blur and vice versa making it a bit disturbing and distracting let alone the jumping up and down of some scenes as the cameraman followed behind the actors almost gave me a headache. As for Olsen, it’s amazing how all three of the girls in that family look alike and yes I know the other two are identical twins!
Unless I missed something I was a bit taken back why John (Adam Trese), Sarah’s daddy, Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens), John’s brother and Sarah were in the house in the first place. I eventually found out they were clearing it out of its belongings. Why? I’m not really quite sure! There are a few holes that needed filling about as many as there were holes in the walls of that house. When Sarah receives a knock at the door she is greeted by a dark haired girl, Sophia (Julia Taylor Ross), who keeps saying she remembers Sarah from when they played together as children but Sarah doesn’t quite remember her. A mysterious setup for what is yet to come. Back in the house when upstairs with her father there are photographs laying on the bed of which he swiftly collects and hides from her sight. Even though the writers are working the storyline they still seemed to forget the characters. “Phone lines are down and cells don’t seem to work up here” says Sarah, opening up even more of an opportunity for something horrific to happen. But does it?
Old houses make noise. Which makes a large house even more terrifying to be in even with or without your father to protect you or at least you hope he would should something happen. Soon Sarah discovers that she and her father are not alone in the house. Peter has gone into town so we know it’s not him walking around the house. When her father disappears Sarah is left on her own and worst scenario happens, she is locked inside the house with no way out. The doors are locked from the inside, windows are boarded up and there is no way out anywhere. She discovers her father alive but beaten and she is on the run from the person or persons still in the house.
When her brother returns and enters the home Sarah is left outside in the car only to once again eventually end up back in the house this time with her Uncle. The father is gone and now Uncle Pete is dragged away. The audience is left a bit confused of why Sarah has not been captured even when there have been so many close calls. In the end the story answers all the questions even though Uncle Pete states he should have stopped it, meaning years ago, but maybe the writers should have stopped and looked at the plot and decided to make the holes smaller rather than larger. Grant it many people see what they want to in life and death whether it be a stalking man (Adam Barnett) or a little unknown girl (Haley Murphy) but overall the truth comes out giving you the choice to stay or walk away. Sarah made her choice and now she has to live with it.
The film definitely has its moments of intrigue, and intensity keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. The director like he did in “Open Water” uses the element of a single camera making it seem a bit real but as for dramatic effect it tends to lose some awesome opportunity to add extreme scare tactics to this film. There tends to be more action and movement than dialogue and verbal conversation which detracts the opportunity to develop characters but all that aside it’s not even close to the worst thriller film ever made as it still allows for the elements of surprise and panic from the main character Sarah. Thanks for some perfect music and an old house filled with many scary sets including that of the basement the film is worth watching.
Trese is fine for the role especially since he’s not the main focus of the story along with Stevens but it is Olsen that shines. She helps to own her moments in front of the lens making her dilemma seem very real emotionally. You’ll find yourself saying don’t go in there or run the other way but that would be the direction and writing and not due to the fact that Olsen wasn’t bringing it to her scenes. She very much does own her moments making you part of her psychotic world inside the house and proves that a small cast can make a decent movie it’s just too bad the directors focus here was not as perfected as his last film. Amateurish maybe but still entertaining enough to watch and feel the angst of being trapped this film comes together in the end but may be too late to save it for an extended stay at the box office. Written yet enjoyed for the most part thanks to Olsen with one and half paws out of four I’m Jon Patch.