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Routine story starts out with our heroine Eveleigh (Isla Fisher) having been in an automobile accident where a child is killed. We then jump forward a year later where Eveleigh is still haunted by the accident, which wasn’t her fault, but is now pregnant herself. She and her husband David (Anson Mount) have recently moved into an old winery and plan to start their own vineyard. Shortly after settling in, Eveleigh starts to see and hear strange things. Her husband and gynecologist (Jim Parsons) think it’s a combination of lingering guilt and her own pregnancy and refuse to believe anything supernatural may be occurring. Eveleigh starts to look into the past of their new home and…well, you can see where this is going…
The script by Lucas Sussman is loaded with every cliché and trope these kinds of thrillers contain, though director Kevin Greutert (Saw VI, Jessabelle) does a good job translating the familiar elements to the screen. The only new touch is setting this spooky tale in the beautiful wine country of California, and it is a stark contrast to the things that go bump in the night…and day. Despite the lovely setting, we still get hooded figures, mysterious ruins, superstitious locals, a house that may have its own secrets and a heroine who is the only one who seems to see the strange goings on. The whole ‘is she imagining it or isn’t she’ is played out in grand tradition. Greutert does give the proceedings an air of mystery and guides the cliché story well, but if you are a fan of these type of movies, you know where it’s all heading. There are a few interesting twists, but the main reveal is far from a surprise as you know the film’s opening would figure in there somewhere. If you like these types of flicks than this one is entertaining enough to pass the time and at least gives you a likable heroine to follow.
We have a very good cast which ups things a notch. Fisher is a determined and strong-willed woman and makes a good heroine for this type of mystery/thriller. Anson (Hell on Wheels) Mount is fine as the doubting, yet caring husband and he and Fisher are a believable couple. Jim Parsons seems a bit out of place as a gynecologist, but maybe that’s because he has created such a memorable character on Big Bang Theory that he evokes Sheldon Cooper no matter what he does. Community‘s Gillian Jacobs plays a friendly neighbor who is also expecting, and Eva Longoria has a small role as Eveleigh’s friend, Eileen. Rounding out is Star Trek: TNG‘s John de Lancie as a local who provides exposition and Blade Runner‘s Joanna Cassidy as a wine distributor with a sense for the supernatural, as we need our paranormal expert and/or psychic in there somewhere.
There is nothing new or special about this very routine thriller, but it is well cast and is well directed. Aside from a somewhat less traditional setting, the familiar tropes of the ‘haunted wife in a new home’ type thriller are all here and accounted for. While the flick is not without its twists, you can probably see what’s coming a long way off. If you are a fan of these thrillers, you can do a lot worse, but if you are looking for something novel and different, than look elsewhere.
Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) wine grapes.