Director: Sean Byrne
Writer: Sean Byrne
Stars: Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby, Pruitt Taylor Vince
Plot: A struggling painter is possessed by satanic forces after he and his young family move into their dream home in rural Texas, in this creepy haunted-house tale.
Running Time: 1 hour 19 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 92% Audience 67%
Why I Watched it: It’s a horror film and we’re in October and this got very good reviews from genre critics and I’ve been looking forward to watching this one.
Thoughts: As much as I love horror as a fan you get a lot of crap to watch, lazy studios just trying to make as much money and putting in as little effort as they can. Most horror is cookie cutter cliched crap so when you hear a title and genre critics say it’s different or it stands out you take notice. I think it’s hard for a small VOD horror movie to get noticed when there’s so much other crap out there and at times even a good movie get’s thrown into the “horror bin”. This looked different and I have to say I like Ethan Embry here’s a guy who’s been kicking around and working steady and in interviews seems like a nice, cool guy trying to make a living. So I went into this with my fingers crossed.
What I liked: This is a very well made horror film and that’s important, sure it had a small budget but it doesn’t look cheap, it’s directed well, acted well and all the technol stuff is good, the sound is great and yes it’s a horror film that doesn’t rely on jump scares, I counted one.
The acting is so good here, Pruitt Taylor Vince is a character actor who has been in a lot of things, he’s heavy set and he has the yes that dart back and forth, he’s usually a good guy or a creepy guy, he’s good at and he’s very good here. He plays this guy who has a lot of emotional problems, is he crazy, is he been driven crazy by voices of the devil. Vince plays him as a child, as someone forced to do things he’d rather not do but in his mind he has no choice. He’s the bad guy here and he’s creepy but they also take some time to make him a person, there’s two scenes that stand out for me, he plays his guitar really loud to block out the voices and of course the police come and he plays it like an eight year old, he mumbles he seems scared, in any other horror film he just kills the cop. There’s another scene near the end where he picks up a gun and you can tell he doesn’t know how to use it and I give him all the credit in the world here, it could have been funny played for laughs but he’s so good here and the tone is so solid that it makes him scary and also you feel bad for this poor guy doing these things. Embry is also good, he’s not as flashy and really he doesn’t have a lot of dialogue but he sells everything so well, the relationship with his daughter is sweet and he’s a nice guy. When things start getting weird because you care about him.
The best thing about this film is the direction Sean Byrne is someone to watch, he nailed the tone on this and that’s not easy, they don’t play things for laughs, it’s not cheesy or over the top, it’s tense and it’s scary and it’s disturbing. Also I can’t take him enough for making this a shorter run time, at just over 80 minutes it’s great he didn’t pad it and the film doesn’t feel rushed or that somethings were missing.
What I didn’t like: Some things are unclear here and I’m fine with some of that I don’t need everything answered, on one level you could say that Pruitt Taylor Vince’s character was crazy but we get a lot of religious stuff here and by the end we do know something bigger is at work here, maybe just good versus evil but they don’t make it clear why Embry’s daughter is targeted. Some of the plot was a tad murky for me.
Final Thoughts: I want to also talk about the use of music here, it’s mostly heavy metal but it works very well and becomes important to the plot, I didn’t mention Shiri Appleby as the wife and mother she doesn’t have a lot to do but she’s good as well.