WIDOW’S POINT ** USA 2019 Dir: Gregory Lamberson. 87 mins
A lighthouse full of evil spirits to be investigated by a once successful horror writer (since they know how to find ghosts). Scary ghosts in wedding regalia walking in backgrounds and figures standing in photos no one else sees. Possessed people muttering the phrase, “It will come, it will come.” WIDOW’S POINT (2019) is a mishmash picture for people who don’t watch horror films.
It is one of the most non-threatening genre films I have ever watched. It plays like it was shot for a young person’s network or Hallmark romance channel. Nothing wrong with those channels, of course. But to pass it off as a horror film or ghost story with allusions of H.P. Lovecraft? Lovers of Lovecraft will either cringe or laugh at this film and the way it dumbs down an even dumber story.
Thomas Livingston (Craig Sheffer) is a successful horror novelist who plans to get back to the top because he needs to pay for a divorce. He ends up in the small town of Harper’s Cove to stay at the infamous Widow’s Point lighthouse to help promote his next book. Upon his arrival, he is warned by the house’s owner (one of the film’s best moments) to never go into the lighthouse. The actor that plays him, who is not listed in the credits, is spot on with cynical barbs like, “Ghosts stories are for people with childlike tendencies.” He delivers these lines with a squint in his eyes and the tone of an irritated fellow putting up with some clown wanting to be in his house that he wanted to sell.
His assistant Rosa is the second best element of the film. Rosa is played by genre veteran KateLynn Newberry. She does well with the lines in a toss away sort of role, and offers a matter of fact tone that masks her ambition to be a writer. Newberry should be in bigger things with better roles. Her role looks like a ‘favor to a friend,’ or ‘Hey, they met my price and I have downtime so let’s do it.’ Actors have to work too, after all.
Craig Sheffer, who is Livingstone, is the driving force of the film in a clichéd manner. His ghost hunting and uncovering of the story seems to violate the basics of any film maker: show it, don’t tell it. The entire film would have been more effective if the story unfolded in the time honored flashback without narration style. Sheffer does have a voice that works well with an effective timbre. Perhaps he will grow into his tone as an actor with better work.
Technician expert Andre, played by (Dominic Luongo), puts in some key details when it comes to certain technical aspects and supplies the ‘face of rationality’ for the film in another thankless role. You might think there was time for some great character development when Andre has to spend the night in the home with Rosa. Unfortunately, there is no back story or character development between them. Even a spot of mindless flirting would have added something to this cliché picture.
Craig Sheffer’s descent into madness when trapped in the lighthouse tower is too silly to comment on. Suffice it to say it is filled with ranting and wide eyed stares with funny faces. The stuff you learn not to do and not do, unless it is an over the top comedy. As with all choices that appear on screen, it falls on director Gregory Lamberson. Terrible acting choices in tone and performance except for the two exceptions I mentioned before.
WIDOW’S POINT (2019) features two annoying children performances that seem to be clichéd again. High voices singing nursery rhymes, possessed kids with knives and smiles standing near a bed in studio thunderstorms comprise the sense of dread in this film.
WIDOW’S POINT (2019) is a film of two styles, one of which I find repellant. First, you find the clichés story and poor acting and directing to create the family friendly film. In the midst of this, there are sequences with children being murdered with a hammer. Such violence is equivalently as repulsive as animal torture. Simply, poor writing and not following on your visions. It is not a black comedy as WIDOW’S POINT (2019) is not written that way. Once again, it comes down to poor choices from (that name again!) writer and director Gregory Lamberson. Where does this come from? Could it have been added for more shock value or was the script a mess in perpetual rewrite during the making? The ludicrous Lovecraft ending will make devotees shake their head and people not familiar with the genre nod in unknowing confusion.
WIDOW’S POINT (2019) is an unintentionally clichéd giggle. I don’t know anyone above the age of twelve that would find it remotely entertaining. I would suggest that was the intention of the makers of the film; to make a safe young person’s film. Thank heavens no one punned Craig Sheffer’s character’s name of Thomas Livingstone by saying, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” Although it might have fit the tone of the film better if they did. There is some wonderful drone photography of the sea and lighthouse with great natural beauty but that is it for this one. Break out mom’s homemade popcorn balls for this one because it doesn’t have any.
Review by Terry Sherwood