Mary 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 and Tom Mallory, introduce the character Emma, who returns to her parents’ new home, and begins experiencing paranormal intruders, and trap her in a complex neurosis that haunts her parents and brother. Tom also portrays in a convincing performance as Frankie, a slow young man, with a few problems and brother to Emma Callan (Elisabeth Moss) in the lead role, who’s most, noted for her role of Zoey Bartlet on the television series The West Wing. 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 soaking 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 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’s back-story of her before the move in, nor is 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, murder by cultist group members and now her too. Her only salvation comes from John Trevor (Jason Lewis) 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 finds on the screen until the last revelation to the audience. Soon enough Emma develops paranoia and mysterious connections to Wicca religion, sending the film into more muddle heading never taking advantage of her parents’ vast acting talents, Kim (Catherine Mary Stewart from Night of the Comet (1984) fame) and Graham (John Savage). Another aspect for this film and a turn off for gore-hounds, no gore and weak special effects, as if the treatment aims for a cable release to Syfy or Chiller. Then badly worded conversation between a psychiatrist and parents, involving their son, Frankie, who is a mental challenge as in fact damage, 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 washes away and reveals 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 reveal to audience with greater understanding to the film and a hint to John.