We’re well into October now, which means it’s time for popcorn, pumpkins and petrifying movies, but if you feel the cinema is sorely lacking in horror diversity, we’ve got you covered.
I recently checked out some of my top picks for a spooky Halloween after enjoying some of the best offerings at Grimmfest 2018, a film festival dedicated to gore, guts and ghosts. I’ve covered the festival right here, but one movie in particular really stood out to me. Enough to make me want to go in for a second viewing.
That movie was The Witch In The Window, an impressively bone-chilling exploration of family, fear and protecting your children.
The Witch In The Window
Director: Andy Mitton
Cast: Alex Draper, Charlie Tacker, Greg Naughton, Arija Bareikis, Carol Stanzione
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.
I’ll be honest, the film’s description didn’t wow me, and I ended up seeing it purely on the recommendation of the film festival’s staff, who all insisted this was one I definitely didn’t want to miss out on. Turns out they were right.
I’m not going to give away too much of the story here because this is a film that really relies on its narrative. It doesn’t take long for you to really invest yourself in the relationship of protagonists Simon (Alex Draper) and Finn (Charlie Tacker), and end up really caring about their budding relationship.
Dad, Simon, is focused on reuniting his family, picking out a worn-down farmhouse to build up with his son, Finn, in the hopes of winning back his estranged wife. 12-year-old Finn is just curious, curious about the world, curious about his future, and curious about the noises in the walls of the house. The two bond and build themselves an adult relationship that’s free from the “bullsh*t” kids usually get told, even though it seems Simon might be living in a fantasy world with his end goals…
The horror elements of the movie work so well with the relationships of the family, with each character carefully planning their choices and decisions. This isn’t your sloppy teenage slasher where everyone always makes the worst decision possible – this is a classic ghost story. The characters here are almost real, with their own motives, fears and desires. It’s truly a testament to the movie’s writing.
Crafting family drama and a deep bond between your audience and your characters is something rarely seen in horror nowadays, and it’s perhaps the reason why I felt such a pull to this project.
The scares don’t suffer for this though – if anything, they’re more powerful because you can understand how and why the characters react the way they do. Jump-scares are there, sure, but they’re not the “lazy” additions we see so often thrown into films to get the audience shrieking – there’s purpose, and reason, and damn it’s terrifying.
Why You Should Watch This Movie
This movie didn’t just blow me away, it blew most of the audience away too. Its near-flawless style, execution, directing and acting make for a perfect storm of cinematic horror. If you like movies like The Conjuring and The Nun, this film will teach you what real horror truly is.
The Witch In The Window is one of the most impressive horrors I’ve seen in while, and you can find it on Shudder (UK/US/Canada) 18th October 2018.