The streak of movies with “house” in the title has ended but the spooky house theme continues on. This time it’s a spooky cabin. It stars Eric McCormack as a widower with his 2 young children going on vacation and I mention this only because I spent the entire movie going “Why do I know who you are?” before finally realizing it was from Will & Grace. The saddest part about this movie is that within the first couple minutes we see Terrance (McCormack) talking to his wife and she tells him that raising the kids isn’t that hard and I immediately knew she was going to die and the “haunting” was going to be about that. Sigh.
So the general plot sees Terrance and his kids going to a cabin up in the mountains for Christmas because his wife always told him about the times she spent up there and how much she loved it. Soon after arriving a storm whips up and things start going crazy. Well, mostly Terrance starts going crazy. They board the house up as they start seeing things moving outside and hearing things trying to get in. The last third of the movie is this entirely surreal, drug trip like sequence of events where Terrance keeps losing and trying to save his kids while franticly going all over the house. Also lots of flashbacks to what happened the night the wife died.
The “twist” ending of the movie is telegraphed so hard within the first few minutes of their arrival in the mountains and then hinted at so repeatedly that it might as well have just been a scrolling reminder at the bottom of the screen. Which isn’t to say there weren’t some good things done within the confines of that. McCormack actually does a really good job as a dad struggling to connect with his kids and we even get a couple “dad jokes” out of him. His frenzied worry over his kids later in the movie helps solidify him as being, if nothing else, a father that truly cares for his children. The kids also don’t ever cross over into the two worst kinds of kids in horror movies: creepy death child or annoying helpless child.
The focus is much more on the psychological terror from being trapped than on an actual physical threat. This works better sometimes and worse at others. Mostly the scenes towards the end work as an interesting metaphor for the fears of a single father rather than anything that is actually scary. I just wish that the plot hadn’t been so incredibly transparent from the very start. Even if you can enjoy the movie on a technical level; everything is so blatantly obvious and there are no real surprises that you don’t see coming from a mile away.
I give the movie a 3 out of 5. Not bad but it just felt like it was the first thing this guy had written. And, looking at his IMDB page, it actually is the first thing that the writer had done. So there ya go. Workshop that shit next time.
Favorite thing in the movie: The believable father/children dynamic.
Least favorite thing: The obvious plot beats.