Since filming his first feature My pure Joy in 2011, James Cullen Bressack has become a force on the indie horror scene both as a producer and a director. Moving back and forth between commercial projects like 13/13/13 and Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys on one hand and smaller more personal projects like To Jennifer, (the first feature shot on an iPhone) and the ferocious Hate Crime on the other. Restoration is in a way an attempt at joining the two. Making commercially themed films on the microbudgets of his personal projects. He produced and co wrote the script with Zack Ward, an actor making his directorial debut.
The plot is pretty standard. A couple move into a house and begin restoring it, (hence the title). They find a stuffed bear hidden in the walls, and a diary hidden in the bear. The diary belonged to a young girl who disappeared under mysterious circumstances years ago. Soon the couple start seeing her spirit both in dreams and while awake. As they dig into the mystery of what happened to her, the events become more terrifying. Add in overly helpful neighbors and the revelation that the wife is pregnant and we’re on our way.
The story will be very familiar to anyone who’s seen more than a couple of films of this type. While it’s not a by the numbers type of film and does have a couple of twists it covers very familiar territory in a very familiar fashion from the finding of the stuffed animal to the nightmares to the visit to the institutionalized person who knows what happened to the final showdown with evil. It is however very well told and despite it’s familiarity never gets boring and despite it’s low budget never looks cheap either. It doesn’t try to pull off extensive effects scenes and pulls off scenes that fit the budget and avoid having to resort to cheap CGI. Solid direction also make some of these scenes that could be laughable if mishandled work well. For example something nasty popping up on a laptop screen could have looked like one of those “gotcha” videos actually did make me jump.
The cast do a good job selling the script and the two leads rise to the occasion in a tense scene where her pregnancy is revealed despite her trying to conceal it. Granted it’s not Shakespeare but it’s better than most low end movies. The struggle at the end is also convincingly acted and choreographed. It’s in doubt all the way through who will come out on top. Unfortunately the last scene is badly cliched, but still manages to produce a small chill.
Restoration won’t bring you anything new, but it won’t bore you either. If you’re in the mood for a familiar tale well told, this is your film.