Review: A House on Willow Street (2016)

A House on Willow Street (2016)

Directed by: Alastair Orr | 82 minutes | action, horror | Actors: Carlyn Burchell, Gustav Gerdener, Zino Ventura, Sharni Vinson, Steven John Ward

‘A House on Willow Street’ follows the adventures of a group of crooks who kidnap the daughter of a wealthy diamond merchant in the South African metropolis of Cape Town. They lock the victim in their hideout and then work out a plan to handle the kidnapping and collect a lavish sum of precious diamonds. But, as is so often the case in the global film universe, the kidnapping is anything but smooth. The kidnapped girl turns out to be possessed by a powerful demon and quickly turns into a formidable and terrifying opponent.

‘A House on Willow Street’ is somewhat similar to films like ‘Don’t Breathe’ and ‘The People Under the Stairs’, also horror films in which a group of burglars set their sights on the wrong house and a quick, lucrative crime job degenerates in a nightmare. In ‘A House on Willow Street’ the kidnapped, seemingly defenseless rich man’s daughter reveals herself as a deadly secretive possessed by a grubby demon. The supernatural being plays on people’s fears and guilt, trying to gather the souls needed for a final resurrection.

‘A House on Willow Street’ is certainly not particularly original or distinctive. Lights that go out suddenly, well-known jump scares, well-known and often tried-and-tested story elements and mutilated corpses are well-known horror clichés that are also eagerly tackled in this work by Alastair Orr in order to drive the fear into overdrive. The dialogues are also usually not great and sometimes even drop to a rather pitiable level. In addition, the main protagonists are also far from sympathetic and not exactly blessed with an overdose of intelligence, so that as a viewer you do not quickly bond with the characters.

Yet there is also something positive to report about this horror film. The film is technically and visually at a fairly high level. In particular, the demon-possessed individuals, complete with bloodshot eyes and a grotesque, spiky giant tongue that looks like the unholy mixture of a squid tentacle and the hemipenis of a viper, look eerie and convincing. The denouement, often not the strongest point of this film type, is also quite good.

‘A House on Willow Street’ won’t cause serious ripples on the horror ocean. The film contains just too many clichés and too few unique selling points for that. Still, it is at times a nice horror film that looks good and is well worth a viewing investment of less than an hour and a half for fans of the genre.

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