Running Time: 1hr 17min
Release Date: July 23, 2018 (Fantasia Fest)
Written/Directed by: Andy Mitton
Review by: Stacey
Call me a sucker for any supernatural flicks involving witches, double points if it takes place in rural farmhouses. Oh hey, whaddya know, Andy Mitton's The Witch in the Window has all of that! Ok, it has all of that but doesn't exactly go down like you would think it does.
After Simon's (Alex Draper) 12 year old son, Finn (Charlie Tacker) gets in trouble while at his mom's house, his punishment is in the form of going to rural Vermont with his dad to work on an old farmhouse that Simon plans to renovate in the hopes that his estranged wife, Beverly (Arija Bareikis) will want to bring the family back together. Shortly after remodeling begins, strange things begin to happen in the home and the two learn that the spirit of a woman named Lydia (Carol Stanzione) haunts the home.
Not unlike director Mitton's previous work We Go On, The Witch in the Window doesn't follow in the footsteps of most supernatural flicks that we're accustomed to, instead it mostly focuses on the strained relationship of the father/son team and how the supernatural events start to bring them together. There's some heart in this movie and even if you've never experienced familial strain like theirs, you sympathize with them and root for their bond. Once the intentions of the father as well as the ghost are clear, the story starts to piece itself together before culminating in a pretty somber ending with good intentions.
Lydia doesn't necessarily take a backseat so much as she's the glue that comes in through super eerie background shots until she's full-on in their face no longer hiding in the shadows. Whether she's lurking in the back barely out of frame (the scarier scenes to me personally) or straight up chasing the father and son, the ghost managed to be fear-inducing while not chartering into over-the-top spooky territory a la Insidious-types, especially coupled with her background story (murdering her family and all).
I really enjoyed the dynamic of Simon and Finn as having a strained relationship but still clearly having a deep love for each other. Finn was a little bit of a shit in the beginning, but he definitely redeemed himself shortly after when trying to help his dad figure out the spectral goings on. Simon was great at portraying the father who would do anything for his family while trying to mentally hold it together in the midst of some unexplainable shit.
Even though the horror elements played it cool and the let the drama aspect unfold, there were some truly chilling scenes in The Witch in the Window. As I mentioned earlier, the scenes where you barely noticed her lurking in the background (I had to go back to certain scenes to see what I might have missed) were downright spooky. There were parts of the story where things aren't what they seem to be, so the added confusion in those scenes added a whole layer of spook.
By the end of the movie, you just want everyone to live happily ever after and while you don't necessarily get that, you aren't going to be let down by the final scenes. I don't think The Witch in the Window is going to play well for a lot of people, especially those who are looking for a scarefest, but if you're down for some heart with a little bit more subdued scares, you're going to want to jump on this one.
Check out the trailer below!