Nov 122012

Another horror film finds Voice reviewer Andrew Watson again, in his own words, ‘crapping his pants’ at Vue Cinema.

Scott Derrickson’s latest offering initially trundles along innocently enough as author Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) moves to a new house seeking inspiration for his next book. Ignoring the local sheriff’s advice about moving into the house, Oswalt finds a box of home movies in attic… yeah, it’s not so pedestrian from here on!

Five reels of film, dating from the 1960s to the present time, show grisly murder scenes with families snuffed out in all manner of creative ways.

Despite this movie being promoted as a supernatural horror, at first it seems all very real and far-removed from the paranormal. That creepy guy you catch glimpses of in the found reels just seems like a nutter in a mask… at first.

It is only after a while it begins to sink in that perhaps things aren’t so rooted in the type of horror often recounted in the tabloid press. This is also set against real phenomena like the author’s son Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario) enduring night terrors in his sleep and being found in the back garden during these episodes.

When Trevor is found folding himself out of a cardboard box, his parents’ shock fades in the knowledge that similar things have happened before. Is the sleepwalking part of the boy’s night terrors, or are Exorcist-like bodily contortions at play?

It’s strange how the further a film seems to creep from reality, the more horrifying it can become. But this is how filmmakers tap into our deepest fears and it is only when we see the ghosts of children playing hide and seek with Ellison that we are 100% sure what kind of film we’re dealing with.

Let’s just say the face didn’t exactly look like your typical Halloween gimmick…

You might think knowing this would put us at ease, making further attempts at horror redundant, but the element of surprise is expertly deployed and the suspense keeps up right to the film’s finale.

When Ellison finally encounters the children face to face, the childish mischief of earlier disappears, the innocent veil of child’s play swiftly replaced with repulsion. I all but fall from my seat as Ellison tumbles from the staircase and I curse when I finally catch a close-up of the ‘masked’ man. Let’s just say the face isn’t your typical Halloween gimmick…

This last scene clinches my satisfaction with this morbid tale. In my eyes, any decent horror film has some link to religious mythology, preferably of the occult variety. Our man in the ‘mask’ turns out to be a pagan deity called Bughuul, or ‘eater of children’s souls’. Creepy stuff!

This film ticks all the boxes, and then some. Definitely recommended.