Film Review: Behind the Wall (2008)

SYNOPSIS:

Maine coastal town Harrison Bay is broke, so deputy mayor Drew Cabot arranges a deal with a contractor to develop the abandoned lighthouse for tourism. Father Hendry fails to convince the town council to veto the project. He also invited, sneakily, Katelyn Parks, who was foster-raised out of state after her father Christopher was locked-up for her mother’s murder there. Once the basement is broken open, new bloodshed starts, and the horrible truth about the past is gradually unveiled

REVIEW:

I respect that this movie was made with straight forward technique without relying heavily on poor special effects, fancy camera shots or kitschy lighting, but that straight forwardness may end up being its biggest obstacle. “Behind the Wall” walks a fine line between not necessarily making any mistakes, but not really doing anything right either. Made with just over a seven figure budget the production values are up to standards but what was done with that budget is median and uninspired.

When Katelyn Parks was a young girl her father was convicted for murdering her mother, after which he never spoke again. She comes back to her home town in Maine because she receives a letter that the lighthouse which she grew up in is going to be sold. Coming home and confronting the memories from her past Parks spends much of the time quietly nursing the emotional wounds from the poorly explained trauma she experiences as a child. She meets with the Deputy Mayor who just happens to be a local that went to elementary school with her and in short order admits that he had a crush on her at the time. While he is trying to gentrify the light house and surrounding land they spark what comes across as an obligatory love interest.

Parks (Lindy Booth) and Father Hendry (Lawrence Dane) should have, at least on paper, been able to add some sort of life since they have many horror credits to their name. Booth more recently has been in “Wrong Turn”, Dawn of the Dead” (the remake) and “Cry Wolf” while Dane has more classics under his belt, “Scanners”, “The Clown Murders” and “Bride of Chucky.” If this might raise your hope then you’ll be poorly disappointed as this movie isn’t one of their better efforts.

Behind the Wall” takes its time setting up the plot to such an extent that it creates an atmosphere of mystery but never develops any tension or intrigue. Slowly dribbling shallow character development, meager plot points and precious little exposition raises some questions but leads to a keen disinterest. As a whole the movie is emotionally dull. When a young couple of the group goes missing everyone seems only marginally concerned and generally goes about their business hoping they’ll turn up. Even as people start showing up dead the individual problems still take precedent and the warnings to leave before it’s too late are noted but dropped quickly.

Just like everything else the ‘monster’ is introduced with a minimum of detail that ups the mystery, but proves to be shallow and vague. I won’t tell you what it is as that detail might be considered a spoiler but I will say that until it’s revealed I started dubbing it ‘the whispering menace.’ As people started to go missing or dying off they were often led astray by strange whispering that was obviously, if not ominously, from this evil. Not that this increased the foreboding mood since the victims either thought someone was there who they weren’t afraid of or they basically ignored it and continued onto their doom. Even after the reveal, however, the whispering continued, albeit it became easier to understand, but had a further diminished impact. Sadly, once revealed the threat is one that comes across as poorly contrived.

There is nothing in “Behind the Wall” that hasn’t been utterly mangled in other movies before but instead of excelling at anything, or at least doing anything competently, everything ends up being pedestrian. Having a few genre experienced actors and a budget that many film makers would give appendages for couldn’t save this from being entirely underwhelming. Though I’m not entirely sure what producer Michael Grais, the writer of “Poltergeist,” saw in this script perhaps he should have looked a little harder as this could have made a decent slow burn type of thriller except the fire wasn’t any hotter than a black snake firework.

Behind the Wall (2008)

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One Response to Film Review: Behind the Wall (2008)

  1. gary mcclain gannaway says:

    Excellent writing. You articulated my problems with this movie far better than I could. I’m wondering, since the actors have good credits, if the direction might account for their flat performances. Just a thought.

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