Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Music by: Christopher Young
PLOT: (May Contain Spoilers)
This Summit Entertainment film is a surprising twist on the classic haunting/ possession horror flick. Ethan Hawke plays Ellison Oswald, a young true-crime author chasing the glory of his best-selling novel that he wrote years before. Hearing of a new crime in a small town, Ellison decides to move there with his wife, Tracy, and his young children Trevor and Ashley. Deciding that he can turn the crime, in which the previous occupants of the Oswald's new house were hung from a tree and a young girl, Stephanie, vanished without a trace.
Small bits of comedy accompany the suspense, but at it's heart, this film is purely suspense/horror. After moving into their new house, Ellison finds a box filled with Super 8 film rolls and an old projector. The box haunts him until he finally takes a look at the films with devastating consequences.
At first sight, the films appear to be just family home videos, but they soon turn into a family's worst nightmare. Each film showcases a particular family being brutally murdered in different ways. Each murder is accompanied by the disappearance of a child.
Ellison decides not to take the box to the police, deciding to investigate on his own first. He begins to suspect that the murders showcased in the box of films were not as straightforward as they seemed at first when strange things begin happening around him. He finds a creepy figure in each of the five videos, an eerie supernatural presence that he can't explain. He also hears odd noises in his attic, and the projector turns itself on in his office late at night.
With help from a local detective, whom Ellison refers to as Deputy So-and-So, he investigates the case the best that he can.
Ellison finds himself caught up in a mystery that he can't seem to escape, and puts his own family at risk of becoming a part of it. Can he solve the mystery before the killer strikes again?
Hawke, while mstly spot-on with his performance as the fame-chasing Ellison, there are moments in the film when his acting falls flat, as if he is bored. Well known for his roles in movies like Taking Lives, Gattaca, and Dead Poets Society, Hawke gives a mostly winning performance.
Juliet Rylance, who plays Oswald's wife Tracy, while she can be a bit lacking on the believability side, she nonetheless does her part in helping along the suspense.
Michael Hall D'Addario, who plays Trevor, Ellison's son, gives a winning performance as a boy with night terrors and occasional behavioral problems.
Clare Foley does a wonderful job as Ashley, being both extremely sweet and extremely creepy when necessary.
There are various interesting camera angles in the film, as well as very good creepy quality on the projection films. Very occasionally the camera seems to shake and move at inappropriate times, which give a little bit of a disorienting feeling. That being said, the majority of the scenes shot are perfect for giving just the right view to enhance the suspense of the film.
The soundtrack is incredibly creepy, building the suspense and intensity throughout the entire film, the only complaint there being that it seems to build up suspense at times when it is not necessary.
The movie is wonderful. There are a few plot holes that aren't bad enough to ruin the film, but overall it does what it is meant to do; it leaves the audience frightened and thinking.
More details on the film can be found here.