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July 10, 2013

Movie Review: A Haunting at Silver Falls (2013, Outsider Pictures)


...ya' know, one really has to wonder, just what is it about lingeringly restless and supposedly 'wronged' ghosts & specters...in particular, those of the cinematic fervor...and their ethereal and other-worldly stasis, forcibly tethered in this world...a torturous limbo...still managing to take with them, a wholly human, demandantly unswerving, relentlessly unforgiving and self-serving sense of justice and purpose?? Supposed 'unfinished business', as often coined...hauntingly insistent upon commanding the attention of the living, despite their limited and handicapped ability to fully communicate, and yet able to exude frustration, anger, rage and fury...sometimes physically...when those whom they are haunting, just can't seem to get the message, right from the get-go. And what about those haplessly haunted...forced to delve into uncertain mystery and intrigue...sometimes getting in way over their heads...in an effort to appease the haunting spirit, invariably plaguing them...
...come on, 'dead' people (...clap, clap); wake up and smell the afterlife...Let's get on with it, huh!!


...heh, seriously though, in truth, as common as this film genre shtick is, some of the best ghost stories, rendered into film, very much adorn themselves in that dark and foreboding cloak of mystery and intrigue...an equal balance of engaging substance, to go along with the creepy paranormal whiffs and gruesomely spectered forms...the disembodied creaks, groans and knocks (...this viewer sites '63's "The Haunting", '80's "The Changeling" and '99's "Stir of Echoes", as amongst personal favorites). Equally common...almost to the point of being cliche, and yes, yawn-inducing, these days...is the idea that such ghostly cinematic excursions are supposedly based upon actual events...until now (...shudder), blanketed in secrecy (...shhhhhhh!! Oooooooo!! Sca-a-a-a-ry!!). In the advent of more to come, in this supernatural meld (...one just can't escape the now-prevalent and over-exposed trailer of the upcoming theatrical release, "The Conjuring"...tsk, tsk), such is the case with one of the recent, and reasonably effective minor-league mystery chillers, "(A Haunting at) Silver Falls"...
...emotionally troubled, and underliningly lent upon suggested medicated treatment for such, after the sudden, brutal death of her mother, Jordan reluctantly finds herself in the resignedly custudative care of her aunt...a twin sister to her late mother...and sleazebag uncle, who both feign a good rouse of sympathy...as well as an overly suspicious aura of secrecy...but in truth, find the situation of having to assume custody of Jordan, less than agreeable to them. As such, Jordan finds herself inescapably wrought with a darkly misfit nature and rebellious reputation...though that hardly deters her nerdy boyfriend, Larry, the son of a reputed psychoanalyst, and the latter of whom definitely disapproves of the potentially troublesome relationship. Having escape a police-raided late-night party, in the woods near Silver Falls (...during which Larry himself gets pinched, much to the dismay of his father, who of course blames the girlfriend), Jordan happenstance stumbles upon a crusted, discarded ring, on the thicketed ground. At first, thinking little of the unique find, Jordan puts the ring on; to her shock and dismay, over the next several days, she progressively becomes plagued by nightmares and visions of two ghastly-looking twin sisters...reportedly, the victims of a heinous double murder, having happened some time earlier...who are spectrally attempting to reach out to Jordan, and draw her attention towards...what?? Trying to convince those around her, of her visions, her assumed 'rantings' are naturally prescribed as being effects and symptoms of her erratic emotional behavior, and her ensuing medicative treatments for such; finding no help amongst her peers, Jordan attempts to decipher the meaning of her visions, on her own. Is this REALLY a ghostly manifestation, or the result of her emotionally unstable distraught?? Or is there greater, albeit diabolically underlining mystery afoot, here??
...for the greater two-thirds of this contrived, though respectably engaging and chilling entry...once-actor, now fledgling director Brett Donowho dishes out something quite predictable and formulaic...that is, up until the latter third of the film, when the elements of simultaneously intervolven and unraveling mystery & intrigue kick into gear. In viewing the film, one cannot help but noticeably strike upon yet another well-worn cliche...that of someone of the younger generation, being subjected to, and readily accepting the situation of being haunted...as horrifically as the nightmares and visions might be...whereas, the surrounding characters...the majority of whom are of a more aged, seasoned and educated ilk...denounce such experiences as outrageous and unbelievable. Yes indeed, the age-old story of one's youth...full of innocence, naivete and unquestioning acceptance of things...the incredible seems credible...the fantastic and imaginative, real and believable...though, as one inescapably reaches a more seasoned and educated adulthood...uh, different story, altogether. At any rate, most of the engaging character play here, overall seems negligible and stereotype...even the ghastly apparitions, themselves...with a few meandering surprises and distracting 'red herrings', particularly when some of the characters more supportive of the Jordan character, inexplicably do an about face, in that respect...and in some cases, vice-versa. The cast, all relatively unknowns...some, seasoned...others, relatively new to the game...yet all, able-bodied and capable to the contrived material here...with the only real 'name' in the cast, being that of the role of Dr. Parrish, the stanch and suspective psychoanalyst, as played by veteran character actor Erick Avari (..."The Mummy", "Mr. Deeds", "Independence Day", amongst countless other roles, in both film and television)...
...as with any film of this flavor, especially with the underlining levels of secrecy amongst some of the characters, as well as the overall feeling of 'not everything is what it seems to be'...thus making the proceedings herein, at least somewhat unpredictable...the ghost-liness of the storyline is reasonably balanced with the mystery and intrigue, and although nothing really new is explored, as far as paranormal activity, the overall effect of the film is moderate in it's attention-grabbing intrigue...and yes, with relative shudder inducing ability...though not quite 'getting under the skin' as much as one might have hoped. Given the overall predictability of the film, this viewer cannot help but wonder about the REAL intrigue herein, which may well fall within the realm of the actual events, from which this particular film is based. What is it, they say about 'truth' being 'stranger then fiction'?? Hmmmmmm.....

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