Movie review by Craig Boehman.
NO SPOILERS AHEAD. . .just watch the movie if you're convinced after reading.
It turns out that IMDB.com isn't infallible. At least if one is relying on them to weed-out bad horror movies. Since they're using a very relatable rating scale of 1 to 10 based on viewer feedback, one can't help but use them as a standby reference before diving in blind and spending a couple of hours with a movie.
The Witch In The Window certainly doesn't deserve the current 5.7 rating listed on the site. In fact, I would comfortably state after watching this film (twice) that the majority of the 3,300+ viewers whose votes resulted in the paltry 5.7 weren't the intended audience - or they suffered a freak head trauma prior to watching. Because it's painfully plain they missed out on the spectacular storytelling, acting, and directing - and the beautiful rural Vermont setting, to name a few brilliant things about this tale.
Granted, most horror moviegoers are looking for nothing but the cheap antics that many of the popular movies are made of these days, or to be honest, historically. For there were no twitchy-looking Japanese girls scuttling about upside-down on the ceiling. No sexy vampires or werewolves skulking about in the woods. Nor were there any homes built on ancient Indian burial grounds or priests falling from windows. But the frights of a proper horror movie are there, I promise, and I'll let you discover those for yourselves. No spoilers, right? So let's dance around the details a little further. . .
So what's the movie about? Here's IMDB chiming in:
"When Simon brings his twelve year-old son, Finn, to rural Vermont to help flip an old farmhouse, they encounter the malicious spirit of Lydia, a previous owner. And now with every repair they make - she's getting stronger."
A haunted house flick - my favorite flavor of horror! I'll go out on a limb here and submit that this movie should be required watching for those who love the haunted house genre. It should absolutely be required for independent filmmakers who are attempting to put their passion project to the silver screen in the horror genre. Here's why.
Few Scooby-Doo Moments
First, I should explain. A Scooby-Doo Moment is when during the course of most horror movies when the protagonist, with or without help from others, attempts to solve the mystery of WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE WHY the supernatural event is occurring. I've noticed that even in good horror flicks that the filmmaker screws these scenes up by over-explaining or quite simply wasting air time discussing the paranormal events in their midst. I mean, get on with the fucking story already! Because if done well, these moments should come about naturally and not seem forced. In The Witch In The Window, there's a perfect balance that makes sense given the situation.
There's another function of the Scooby-Doo Moment in horror films. During the course of the investigation of the supernatural buggery, there are often clues as to how to defeat the evil, to banish the ghosts, to exercise the demons. These revelations may not materialize until later in the film, but they still find their roots in the Scooby-Doo Moment. Again, in this movie they set the right balance. In fact, there is at least one unanswered question for me which looms large after viewing the film. But for spoiler's sake, I won't go into details.
I theorize too that producers love Scooby-Doo Moments because they want to cater to a general audience, an unintelligent audience incapable of handling some unanswered questions.
Strong storyline about people, first and foremost
The Witch In The Window has a strong storyline that most people can relate to going in. It's actually quite touching, and as we find ourselves deeper in and closer to the end we realize how well writer, director, music composer, producer Andy Mitton put it all together. Because equal weight is given to the relationship between father Simon and son Finn. On second thought, the scale may be tipped in favor of focusing on this relationship rather than on the spirit of Lydia that haunts their house. Maybe this is the prime reason why the majority of the IMDB audience down-voted this film to its current 5.7 rating? Not enough ghost shit? But for me, it's refreshing and still relevant without overtaking the spooky factor.
I don't think The Witch In The Window had a proper cinema release; I'm only seeing film festivals where it was released. Virtually, a straight-to-DVD strategy with hopes of turning a profit through licensing. This may explain the incredibly unimaginable global box office take of only $37,802. IMDB - is this true?
Anyway, the point I want to make is that had this movie not been a horror flick, and had The Witch In The Window been a coming of age story set in our present day Covid-19 world, maybe with the same basic storyline but minus the ghost shit, then I believe there may have been more high-profile industry recognition for actors Alex Draper (Simon) and Charlie Tacker (Finn). That said, I'm glad things worked out they way they did. Draper just makes everything he says and does believable. Not just for the sake of story but in presence alone. You believe he's a house-flipper. You believe the words he speaks and the dialogues he has with Tacker. Every scene rings of authenticity. And it's this believability in the acting department that makes all the ghost shit so much more very real and scary when it all hits the fan.
Find The Witch In The Window and watch it. For someone like me who's never visited Vermont, which is actually where the film is shot too, it spurs my curiosity about rural Vermont and the lives of the people there, fictional and otherwise.
For those of you who've seen the Canadian production of Ravenous (2017) - another ridiculously underrated horror movie currently sitting at 5.9 - you'll notice right away the care taken to put the setting in the forefront of the film in beautiful and haunting ways. You won't be disappointed if you're looking for a horror flick to watch that offers a lot more substance than mere flash.