WOE *** USA 2020 Dir: Matthew Goodhue. 84 mins
The films opening scene has Charlie Dennistoun (Adam Halferty) carrying ‘something heavy’ in a bin bag into the backyard of his house, kissing the bag and proceeding to bury the item in the garden.
So the scene is set for the movie, a true tale of woe – we later realise that it’s his dog, as we watch him constantly filling the dog bowl with biscuits, to overflowing – day in, day out.
Betty Dennistoun (Jessie Rabideau) and her boyfriend Benjamin Hennessey (Ryan Kattner) arrive at Charlie’s house, to drop off a suit and not seeing him leave it at the door. They leave her brothers house and go with her mother to visit her father Thomas (Russell Becker) and Uncle Pete’s (James Russo) grave – both having been gone for a year.
But all is very much not as it seems for the Dennistoun family as they are being followed constantly by a creature, which is first witnessed when Benjamin visits a preoccupied and extremely non conversant Charlie – the tall demonic cloaked figure wandering the house – sometimes rapidly – in the shadows.
Charlie’s only real interaction throughout the first part of the movie is with his neighbour Russ (De Vaughn La Bon) an elderly guy who lives just next door, who is trying to persuade him to sell the house.
Charlie gets a hand delivered letter, nearly everyday, dropped into his house, addressed just to ‘Charlie’, containing an address on a scrap of paper ’32, Hockomock’, always the same writing, always the same message.
He also begins receiving phone calls from his supposedly dead and buried Uncle Pete, which adds to the gloomy feeling of the story. Not wanting to give away any more of the plot, but it’s not the happiest of tales and there isn’t a happy ending either – you have been warned!
The movie is very well filmed, from the lighting to the tracking shots to the continuity, it all adds to an overall sense of foreboding.
There are a limited amount of special effects on show, but the ones that are featured are of a fairly high calibre, especially considering this is a low budget film.
The ‘droning’ tunes further add to the low feeling and with the addition of terrifying screams on them, make them very reminiscent of some of the soundtrack to the classic downbeat film, ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’ by John McNaughton.
For a ‘low budget’ film and the first feature length one for director Matthew Goodhue – after the shorts ‘Dames’ and ‘Virgil’ both of which featured Adam Halferty – the acting, the soundtrack and even the end credits are a pleasure to watch, with a great deal of effort having gone into this little gem, with small hat tips to other films of the horror genre.
There is a nod to the classic horror of William Castle with Betty silently watching the classic ‘The House on Haunted Hill’ alone in her apartment – though we actually see no visuals of what she is watching, we only hear the soundtrack as the camera carefully studies her reactions to the developing plot onscreen.
Review by Ian Carroll