Katherine (Carlyn Burchell), the daughter of a wealthy diamond dealer, is kidnapped by a gang of ruthless no-goods, intent on making a quick killing from what they believe will be her distraught parents. Unfortunately there is more to Katherine than meets the eye, as she has been possessed by an ancient evil, which is now intent on wreaking havoc on her tormentors, with bloody results for them all.
The title of From A House on Willow Street (2016) – the demonic thriller from director Alastair Orr – could be seen as somewhat misleading. Though the evil around which the story is set originates from the said abode – set at the end of what looks more like a long forgotten dirt track than a residential road – the majority of the film’s diabolical goings-on occur in a different location completely. That’s not to say that the main setting for the action – an abandoned industrial warehouse / mill complex – isn’t perfectly in keeping with its overriding sense of creepiness. However the resultant film ultimately ends up leaving the viewer feeling short changed.
From A House on Willow Street unfortunately suffers from the same affliction effecting many modern horror movies – a random appropriation of elements from countless things which have gone before. Of course the manner in which they’re executed here is slickly done and, in may instances, quite effective in a shock and it’s gone sort of way. However, levitating demons and mutilated bodies aside, there is little of any real substance or originality on show.
The truth is that the film, when it remains in the said house – in other words for about its first fifteen minutes – is quite effective in an is it, isn’t it manner: initially the viewer, along with the protagonists, is unsure whether there is actually anything or anyone in the building at all. Even when the duo – who have been sent by their cohorts to kidnap the diamond dealer’s daughter – find their victim, tension is sustained as she issues veiled threats about dire consequences if they continue with their plan and don’t let her go. Again at a later stage when the unfortunate boys are sent back to the house, a degree of unease is again introduced as they begin to discover much more to the building than was initially apparent.
It’s really when the gang regroup at the deserted warehouse and chain their hostage in a dank, ill lit basement room, that things begin to go down hill. From then on – apart from the aforementioned brief return to the Willow Street abode – what we get is the old ‘please let me go and I promise I won’t hurt you’ scenario, followed closely by the predictable ‘you shouldn’t have done that’ outcome, culminating in a tried and tested fire and brimstone finale.
As said the whole thing plays out in a slick and professional manner. Orr draws effective performances from his cast of mostly unknowns – to this point Carlyn Burchell who plays the demon possessed victim has probably had the most on-screen experience – whilst the settings of the house and warehouse are atmospherically gothic and decrepit respectively. Ultimately however, From A House on Willow Street is a film which sidetracks you, leading you down endless blind alleys only to fail to deliver on its promises.
Cleaver Patterson (@Cleaver68 / @ScreenAndGone)