The middle brother who was the #1 renter of DVD’s in the country was also a master ghost storyteller. My cousins and I would huddle around him at family gatherings as he wove and spun elaborate tales of suspense and surprise. He would slowly build up the stories, shocking us with the sudden appearance of a flame from his lighter or a quick slap of his hands; making us jump in the darkened living room. The most innocent of events would be transformed into a wild frightening story filled with scary apparitions and spirits. What made his ghost stories so good was the way he slowly built up the suspense, taking his audience on an unexpected journey to a different world. These same factors were employed in this darkly hued horror film. There was no slashing of flesh, no spurting of blood needed in making this well done film scary. There were times when the music would give away the upcoming twist, but it was the use of shadows that propelled the tension forward. Uncle Lucas, played by Nikolas Coster-Waldau (Kingdom of Heaven, Headhunters), had been searching five years for his missing nieces, before he was notified they had been found alone in an abandoned house in the wilderness. Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel, played by Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, Take Shelter), would help reintroduce the girls into the living world by becoming their guardians. What the couple did not realize was the girls already had a protective guardian. Taking on a different kind of role, Jessica still brought her considerable strong acting skills to her character. Megan Charpentier (Red Riding Hood, Jennifer’s Body) and Isabelle Nelisse (Mirador-TV) were absolutely creepy as the nieces Victoria and Lilly. There was never a time where I jumped out of my seat from fright; however, the tension and suspense kept me captive. It was done in a similar way like my brother used to do with his stories when I was a kid.
2 2/3 stars
The heart is a resilient muscle. It has the ability to heal from an emotional wound. No matter how many scars it may have, the heart will always let you know how it feels. The one exception would be when the individual does not have closure. Without that closure the heart remains in a wounded state, always reminding the person of its pain. Though I have experienced a broken heart, I never had to deal with the tragic horror the couple in this dramatic mystery were living. It had been several years with police detective Tom Adkins Sr., played by Jon Hamm (The Town, Friends with Kids) and his wife Barbara, played by Rhona Mitra (Shooter, The Number 23), no closer in finding out the circumstances behind the disappearance of their son Tom Jr. With the strain weighing particularly heavy on Officer Adkins, he could not let go and move on. When the remains of a little boy were found from a 50 year old grave, little did Tom know his detective work on the remains would result in a clue to his son’s case. This movie surprised me for a couple of reasons. First, it had a strong cast with the addition of Jessica Chastain (The Help, Lawless) as Sally Ann, Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama, A Beautiful Mind) as Matthew Wakefield and James Van Der Beak (The Rules of Attraction, Dawson’s Creek-TV) as Diploma/Roggiani. Second, the way the director blended the current events into the story behind the 50 year old remains kept my attention. With the older story, the sepia toned scenes made for seamless transitions between past and current time. In spite of several scenes that did not work for me, this film was a moving tale that touched my heart.
2 1/2 stars — DVD