THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW (2018)
Flick opens with mom Beverly (Arija Bareikis) sending her son Finn (Charlie Tacker) from New York City to Vermont to stay with his estranged father Simon (Alex Draper). Finn saw something traumatic online and his mom wants to get him out of the city and away from such negativity for the summer. Simon is flipping a house in a rural area, though secretly hopes he can bring his family back together there. Local electrician Louis (Greg Naughton) tells Simon that the house was once owned by Lydia (Carol Stanzione), a woman said to be a witch, who may have murdered her own family and then herself died in the house. Soon Simon and Finn begin to hear and see things in the house, as they renovate and come to believe Lydia may still be there and want her house back.
Flick is written and directed by Andy Mitton, who was one of the filmmakers on the spooky indie Yellowbrickroad. It does vaguely evoke the 1976 Burnt Offerings, and has a familiar basic story, but is definitely it’s own thing. Mitton crafts a slow burn haunted house flick that has some very thick atmosphere, for a film that avoids the classic tropes of the genre, yet remains very effective. There are no fog shrouded nights, full moons, or even any blood or gore. Most of the film takes place in broad daylight and Mitton still achieves some solid chills. There are maybe only two jump scares in the film and they are all well-earned, not cheap. Things get really freaky in the last act, for reasons that won’t be spoiled here, and while the ending is quite subtle, it is also very effective. That is what is so refreshing about Andy Mitton’s supernatural chiller, is that it achieves a very spooky tale without falling back on familiar tropes, or relying on an abundance of SPFX. Aside from Lydia’s make-up, there are no visual FX, no blood, no gore and no CGI. It’s all done in-camera with some really impressive cinematography from Justin Kane, an atmospheric score by Mitton himself, good direction and solid performances from the small cast.
As for that cast…one of the reasons this flick works so well, is because the performances are all very good. Alex Draper does a really good job as a flawed, but loving father who wants to bring his family back together. His love for his son is evident and his need to finish this house, despite the warnings, is heartfelt. Charlie Tacker is good as Finn. He’s a typical rebellious 12 year-old, but one caught in the emotional turmoil of being in the middle of a parental separation. This brings about the not unexpected behavioral issues. Tacker and Draper have really good chemistry and their scenes together crackle with authenticity of a real father/son relationship. Arija Bareikis is solid as mom Beverly, a woman who may be a little over-protective, but loves her son. Greg Naughton is good as the very scared electrician and neighbor, who may not be telling Simon everything, despite all he has told him. Finally, Carol Stanzione is very spooky as Lydia, despite having only one word of dialogue…in her original form anyway.
In conclusion, Andy Mitton delivers a spooky and subtle movie without falling back on the clichés of this type of flick. He accomplishes some solid chills with some simple camera work, atmosphere and the performances of his actors. It’s a slow burn and a bit of a familiar story, but one that requires no CGI or SPFX, aside from some simple make-up. It’s a good example of it being the filmmaker, not all the bells and whistles, that a spooky flick makes. Available to stream on Shudder and certainly recommended.
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