Dorothy taught me when I was just a wee child that there’s no place like home…as long as you don’t let that damn witch in. Here’s a roundup of some movies about being in the wrong house at the wrong time.
THE DEVIL’S CANDY (2015)
I don’t know what it is, but director Sean Byrne’s film The Loved Ones did not work for me at all, and The Devil’s Candy scores even lower. I found much of what happens unforgivable!
Once again, there are too many disjointed aspects to the plot and to the characters relations to each other—why exactly is the antagonist targeting the protagonist? There seem to be clashing explanations and I’m not really sure which is the right conclusion to draw when all is said and done.
A metal head artist (the metal head part is refreshing, but ultimately irrelevant) begins to paint visually disturbing images of torture and death while shirtless (that’s a plus).
So…the take away…metal heads really are sadistic.
Anyway, he moves with his wife and teen daughter into a new house. A creepy, crazy weirdo starts coming around and terrorizing them, a section of the film that is incredibly effective and disturbing without being all up in your face with the grisly details.
It’s revealed that the crazy guy lived in the house previously, but it’s also suggested he’s either possessed or a demonic force conjured by the artist’s work. Well, which is it? Did he live in the house, or is he a figment of the artist’s creativity? Or are the paintings just premonitions? Is the artist possessed by whatever possessed the other guy when he lived in the house?
The crazy guy seems to have a very specific agenda, for he keeps referencing what he’s being made to do by another force. He also appears to be from the It Follows school of creativity. Despite having a mortal backstory, he’s unstoppable, and his single goal is to do something unspeakable to the daughter…even though he kills some other random people while working towards his goal.
The number of times he actually gets his hands on the daughter is kind of ridiculous. Most offending is when he kidnaps her after he already broke into their house and attacked her. There’s now a heavy police intervention to protect the family since the crazy guy has a dark, troubling past. The dad is supposed to pick the terrified daughter up from school but has car problems. When he finally arrives, he learns from someone there that she’s gone. So…this girl is terrified the crazy guy is coming for her and is depending on her dad to pick her up, but somehow the crazy guy got her when she was in school and there was still faculty there? When her dad didn’t show, why didn’t she secure herself somewhere safe with their help? Or call the police? How did she fall into the crazy guy’s trap? We’ll never know because it’s not shown. After this major copout for the sake of the narrative to go where the writer wanted it to go, I checked out.
All the It Follows shit comes after that, so I guess it can be considered terrifying. My suggestion…go watch It Follows instead.
HOUSE OF THE WITCH (2017)
It’s getting harder and harder not to be subjective about horror movies that lure me in by throwing the word Halloween into the description…and then prove to be set on October 31st just so that the word Halloween can be put in the description.
Don’t expect pumpkins, trick or treaters, or even fall foliage in House of the Witch.
Kids go to stay in a creepy old abandoned mansion on Halloween and get locked inside with an evil witch force.
At first, they see creepy photos, a Victrola plays on its own, and then one girl freaks out when she sees a witch sort of emerge from a chair.
It’s divide and conquer time.
They all run around the house screaming as they’re attacked by various forms of ectoplasm.
Most memorable moments: a chick gets her nails ripped off one by one; an idiot says to her friend that’s sitting in a room facing away from her, “Why aren’t you looking at me?”…so the bitch does the backwards bend to look at her…and then crawls in her direction. Other than that, there’s a reason it’s a SyFy original.
SHUT IN (2016)
Shut In reminds me of the days of 1980s thrillers like Dead of Winter. The weird plot makes it even more intriguing.
Naomi Watts lives in the middle of nowhere, caring for her teen stepson, who was in a car accident that left him as an invalid.
She’s a psychologist and also takes care of other children on occasion. A young deaf boy under her care is taken away to be placed in a school, but shows up on her property in the middle of a snowstorm a few nights later, so she takes him back in.
And then things start going bump in the night.
She’s convinced there’s a ghost roaming her house. She keeps phone contact with her therapist, who basically implies that she’s losing her shit…
I can’t even say anything else without spoiling the film, but aside from the “unique” twist, Shut In is a pretty basic thriller in terms of atmosphere, jump scares, and plot structure.
THE WOLVES AT THE DOOR (2016)
Director John R. Leonetti, who brought us Annabelle, gives us what seems like a straight-up clone of every other home invasion movie. However, there’s a catch…this one is based on a true crime that took place way back in 1969…
That explains the awesome 60s soundtrack. But if you don’t know the crime this is based on, it may seem less compelling despite being a nonstop 73-minute ride of suspense, scares, and violence. I personally knew nothing about Wolves at the Door going into it, so it wasn’t until the addendum at the end of the film that I learned the truth and had to reprocess in my head everything I’d just watched, which I’m ashamed to admit I should have caught on to. I really need to stop doing a million other things while watching movies. No, actually I don’t, because I’d never make it through half the movies I do if I paid attention…
Anyway, the opener is chilling, and it’s so cool to see veteran actors Chris Mulkey and Jane Kaczmarek as the first victims of a home invasion. There is a moment involving a light switch that went right through me.
Then we meet a bunch of friends hanging out at the home of a pregnant woman named Sharon, played by scream queen Katie Cassidy.
Don’t expect any character development or storyline.
This is all about the terror as they are quickly picked off by an unseen group of home invaders.
Jump scares, brutal kills, and intense chase scenes, are all you’re going to get.
If you prefer horror slowed down by plot, this isn’t the movie for you. They’d need to take on another 30 minutes or so of filler to deliver that here.