Haunted Honeymoon

Film Review: A Haunting at Silver Falls (2013)

A-haunting-at-Silver-Falls-2013-movie-4SYNOPSIS:

A small town is haunted by the twin daughters of a wrongfully convicted man. Young Jordan is sent down the path to who the real killer is only to find the killer is very close to her.

REVIEW:

So my blu-ray player took a crap, and as such it took longer than I had planned to get to this one. Sorry about that.

Short version – I really liked this one. We’re talking about a classic style ghost story but with an unexpected thriller twist that you most likely won’t see coming…at least not entirely.

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The opening of the film is a blue-lit, running through the woods for whatever reason sequence that sets up our ghost story. You won’t know exactly what it has to do with the events to come, but it is a great intro into the story.

The story starts 20 years after the opening. I know that because it says so. We have a bunch of everyday teenagers in an isolated mountain town having a kegger at the eponymous falls of the title. I’ve lived in small towns like this when I was younger, and I’ve been to parties just like this one. The cops come and all the kids scatter into the woods, climbing trees, etc. you know the drill.

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But before all of that, we meet our main characters. Jordan (Alix Elizabeth Gitter) has just moved to this rustic dump from LA after the death of her father. She is living with her hedonsitic Aunt and Uncle (whom I will get to in a minute). She  and her boyfriend Larry (James Cavlo) spend some quality time at the party, talking about the ghosts and legends of the falls. But not before buying some “narcotic entertainment” from the local bad boy Robbie (Tadgh Kelly).

All of this is pretty standard teenage fare, until the raid happens. Jordan and Larry get separated in the woods, and Jordan finds a ring (why it always gotta be a ring?) on the ground and absently puts it on her finger. Like the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz, the damn thing won’t come off. And the ring’s water-logged, dead owner starts hanging around for…reasons.

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This is where it gets really interesting. Slowly, little bits of the town’s sordid history come to light as Jordan tries to figure out why she’s being stalked by a ghost(and the creepy drug dealer). Stories of a death-row murderer who killed his twin daughters, but may actually be innocent. Apparently many girls over the years have claimed to see the same thing Jordan has been seeing. Strange they all committed suicide after going through counseling with the local psychiatrist Dr. Parrish (Erick Avari). Oh yea…and he’s also the father of Jordan’s boyfriend. That’s awkward.

There is also a sub-plot concerning Jordan’s mother, who died suddenly many years ago and was the twin sister of the auntie Jordan is now living with. This bit of the story may seem a bit unnecessary at first, but stay with it because it is important later on.

The story is well written. The three writers have basically nothing listed for past works, but together they made a respectable stab at a good ghost story. According to the opening credits, the story is loosely based on real events, but I have no idea what events those are. Pretty sure the real story didn’t end like this one, though.

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The twist about halfway through the film makes the whole experience worth it. It almost becomes a completely different movie at that point, changing genre without a turn signal or even a brake light. The transition from the first half to the second half is sudden, but it totally works.

I will admit that for a while the film felt a lot like an episode of GOOSEBUMPS or ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK. Some of the interior sets don’t do much to shake that feeling, either. But if you can grin and bear through it, you’ll be surprised by how good (and how violent) this after-school special gets.

The director, Brent Donowho, had a good eye for this sort of creepy village adventure. you may (or not) recognize his name from the series PARKER LEWIS CAN’T LOSE. A big leap from that to this, let me tell you. The camera work is really good, and really takes full advantage of the landscape.

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The sound production on this film was amazing. I mean, really well done. I geuss it doesn’t count as an indie film, but it was done a very small budget relatively speaking. The money was spent wisely on post-production sound. They didn’t skimp on visual effects, either. The ghosts have the look of The Ring or The Grudge. Hard to tell what is practical and what is CGI. Quite impressive.

So let’s talk cast. I mentioned Erick Avari. You would recognize him from everything ever made EVER. He’s a go-to villain actor, notable in the series HEROES, WAREHOUSE 13, and from the film FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (a personal favorite of mine, FYI).

The aunt and uncle (definitely not candidates for foster parents of the year) are played by Steve Bacic and Tara Westwood. Mr Bacic appeared  in ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND and as Prince Barin in the 2007 tv reboot of FLASH GORDON. Ms. Westwood has had several tv appearances including CSI MIAMI and RESCUE ME.

Our nerdy boyfriend Larry has quite a few credits to his name, but the one I find the most amusing is Disney channel’s ICARLY. This is a bit of change from the Disney channel.

The convicted father of the murdered girls is played by James C Burns, notable from many day time soap operas such as THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, and GENERAL HOSPITAL. He is only in the movie a very short time, but it is definitely a highlight scene.

Even our ghosts have some acting pedigree. Nikita and Jade Ramsey were recurring characters on the series HOUSE OF ANUBIS and appeared in X MEN 2.

The biggest surprise for me is the brief appearance of James Ralph as the sheriff. He’s mainly a stunt man, working on FANTASTIC FOUR, I ROBOT, THE A TEAM, and many other films. Sadly, he doesn’t get any stunt work in this film. But his brief time on screen is worthwhile.

This is a first film for Alix Elizabeth Gitter, She does an admirable job in the role. It’s difficult to play “crazy” and still be sympathetic. It is also very easy for a young and inexperienced actor to overplay crazy. She plays the character with a good balance and, because of that, you are invested in her.

So to sum up – I really enjoyed this film. Great cast, beautiful cinematography, and a story that kept me guessing a far way through. It does have that “teenage romance novel” feel, like the video for EVERLONG  by The Foo Fighters, but I can excuse that. It fits the story and the characters.

So on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being awesome) I’m giving this film 5 golden rings.

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