May Lambert, a name forever tied for directing the popular horror film from Stephen King’s novel bearing the name Pet Sematary [1989] and later the sequel, had gone on to direct numerous horror films, returns with a low-budget and a flourish of an old gothic romance novel involving a young woman with ghostly images. The writers Robert M. Reitano (Night School [1981]) and Tom Malloy (#Screamers [2016]), introduce the character Emma, who returns to her parents’ new home, and begins experiencing paranormal intruders, who trap her in a complex neurosis that haunts her parents and brother. Tom also portrays, in a convincing performance, Frankie, a slow young man, with a few problems and brother to Emma Callan (Elisabeth Moss (Us [2019])) in the lead role. Moss carries over 90% screen time of the film, while dealing with numerous psychological and paranormal issues, that focuses on herself, and plagues her with dangerous, both manifesting in real life and in her mind too.

Emma’s main problem seems to occur after she chases an intruder with a pair of scissors and while wearing only a towel from taking a relaxing soothing bath the chase continues until she looks upstairs into the attic, which is not a normal way to track someone in your home. It is here the story starts with Emma spotting a ghost mirror of herself in the attic staring at her, and starts to also lose the audience, as the incident doesn’t scare her into leaving but creates agoraphobia and anorexia remain indoors and forcing her to stop eating. This is all happens after she returns home for unknown reasons and gives a cursory glance which has a sense of hush and rushes over to cover a plot hole. This brings the next issue, for a character like Emma, one wants and needs the audience to empathize with her, but there lacks a back-story before she moves in so there isn’t any way to measure how far she ventured into these neurological situations, in clinical terms, there no baselines. The reality continues to swing further out of control, as Emma concludes the ghost is her twin, murdered by cultist group members and now her too. Her only salvation comes from John Trevor (Jason Lewis (Deadbox [2007])) a detective and EMT who assists in discovering the truth that fits perfectly into her realm.

This film, at times, tries to accomplish Roman Polanski’s Repulsion [1965] a film which often appears on cable television every year in the Halloween season, for its outstanding and believable thrilling visual cascading the mental state of Catherine Deneuve’s character Carole, with using the confines of the location to develop multiple neurological issues, all focus on the one character. Sadly, none of that happens here, the location, is not Hill House or Amityville, and does not equal the attic in The Exorcist [1973]; this is not a haunted house feature, leaving one to wonder about the importance of the house and the attic. Attics in general hold secrets, past childhoods, forgotten memories, and even leftovers from a previous owner, junk, clothing, boxes, trunks, and tons of cobwebs, but for this film none of those elements are found on the screen until the last revelation to the audience. Soon enough Emma develops paranoia and mysterious connections to the Wicca religion, sending the film into more muddle heading never taking advantage of her parents’ vast acting talents, Kim (Catherine Mary Stewart (Night of the Comet [1984])) and Graham (John Savage (Tales of Halloween [2015])). Another aspect for this film and a turn off for gore-hounds, there’s no gore and weak special effects, as if the treatment aims for a cable release on Syfy. Then badly worded conversation between a psychiatrist and parents, involving their son, Frankie, who is a mentally challenged, an extremely offensive viewpoint for a modern-day doctor to use, a slap to horror fans and cinema watchers in general.

The confrontation at the end of the film, nicely angled, but too much too late, the film supplies the answers in a hurried fashion, with ghostly images washing away and revealing the illusions for what they all have become in her world. The best line comes near the end of the film, involving a new family entering the house now for sale, with a Poltergeist reference of Indian burial grounds, and the realtor missing it, resorting with Indian Restaurants nearby. However, in the final moments all is revealed to the audience with greater understanding to the film and a hint to John.

TAGLINE: Some Secrets Are Better Kept In The Dark

IMDb Rating: 3.4/10

Baron’s Rating: 3.0/10