(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Due to some decidedly tragic events that never quite get a definitive explanation, Jordan (played by comely Alix Elizabeth Gitter whose given an “introducing” screen credit though this appears to be her tenth filmed production) comes to live with her aunt Anne (Tara Westwood) – her mother’s twin – and uncle Kevin (Steve Bacic), a greasy sort whose behaviors harkens back to only the best closeted pedophiles. After finding a ring close to the nearby Silver Falls, Jordan finds herself suddenly troubled with visions of dead girls – twin sisters killed at the hands of their own father (or were they?). Faced with no alternative, Jordan desperately tries to convince anyone who’ll listen that these restless spirits only hope to convey a message from beyond: the real murderer is still out there … and now anyone who can see the twins is in danger!
Otherwise, Haunting ends up feeling too predictable. It’s populated with just the right amount of troubled teens for the casual viewer to see through the usual narrative trickery (the first half plods along with a heavy ‘been there done that’ attitude), but kudos to them all for giving it a decent try. Granted, there were hints that something more was afoot – the Sheriff’s son seems to know the story of the twins’ deaths isn’t what most people think, but he’s relegated so strongly into the background that he never comes off as more than Jordan’s would-be stalker. Westwood and Bacic’s performances as the doting, adoptive aunt and uncle feels like they have something to hide, and – lo and behold – before it’s all over, they do! They do have something to hide! Those are the kinds of ‘gimmes’ that could’ve been lessened with a meaner, leaner draft. Shot as it is, Haunting feels somewhat like they were making it up as they went, so maybe they were.
And that’s a disservice to some respectable work by “newcomer” Gitter as well as James Cavlo’s underused role as Larry, Jordan’s kinda/sorta boyfriend. These two fresh faces did they best they could with their time and skills to deliver serviceable performances surrounding youths in trouble. If more attention had been paid to the script’s ‘trouble,’ then their work might not have felt so wasted. There’s an ambiguity in their final screen moment that shouldn’t be there; I’ll take that as further evidence of scriptwriters struggling to define definitively what was actually going on here … plus the obligatory and expectable big finish tells me they watched one too many horror flicks in their time and just sought to mimic the polish.
While not entirely predictable, A Haunting At Silver Falls remains plagued by too many elements already explored by other vastly superior films. What’s disappointing about that is it ends up wasting some solid work by its two young stars as well as leaves other more interesting narrative possibilities completely unexplored. In horror, not all is what it seems. In fact, rarely is ‘all’ what it seems. Had Haunting dabbled more heavily in those parts of its script, it may’ve had a better chance at being discovered. This tale inspired by “a chilling, true story” needed less truth and more chill.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Inception Media Group, LLC provided me with an advance copy of A Haunting At Silver Falls for the expressed purposes of completing this review.