The House on Willow Street – South Africa, 2016 – reviews

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‘Evil has an address…’

The House on Willow Street is a 2016 South African supernatural horror film directed by Alastair Orr (The Unforgiving; Expiration; Indigenous) from a screenplay co-written with Catherine Blackman and Jonathan Jordaan (Expiration). It is also known as From a House on Willow Street.

Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com

The movie stars Sharni Vinson (Patrick: Evil AwakensYou’re Next; Bait), Carlyn Burchell (Red: Werewolf Hunter; RoboCop; Darker Than Night), Zino Ventura and Steven John Ward (Dominion). 

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Roguish kidnappers abduct the daughter of a wealthy diamond distributor hoping to gain a large ransom. But when they have her locked up in their hideout, they come to realise their victim has been possessed by a sinister demon…

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Reviews:

“It still isn’t quite a knock-out, but shows a great advance on Orr’s messy debut The Unforgiving – he’s clearly shaping up as a committed genre auteur, and has a ton of cool ideas even though he tends to splurge them at the screen rather than go for more concentrated effects.” The Kim Newman Web Site

“… it soon becomes clear that scary-face-going-boo-in-the-dark is pretty much all they’ve got, and the constant stream of repetitive scares gets tiresome. There are some nice visuals to match the bloody make-up effects, but the film suffers from a severe case of cheap CGI fire.” Benedict Seal, Bloody Disgusting

“The look, the tone, the sound design, and the musical score do a fine job of setting a creepy stage once the gloves come off, horror-wise, and at that point the pace picks up considerably, resulting in a third act full of demonic malfeasance that genre fans are sure to appreciate […] it’s not a film that’s likely to win many awards for originality, but (much like From Dusk Till DawnThe House on Willow Street works unexpectedly well as a pulpy, unpretentious, horror comic book of a movie.” Scott Weinberg, Nerdist

” …this film manages to pack into its 90-minute running time every clichéd ghost-train location imaginable – and in case you miss the point, stretched between house and factory there are only deep dark woods, complete with atmospheric mists. In the end, From A House on Willow Street is hardly a genre game-changer – but there is much fun to be had with its po-faced silliness and macabre maximalism.” Anton Bitel, Projected Figures

“Every single scare is killed with a loud sound cue meant to make viewers jump, and while it works for some people it’s a cheap and insecure way to build fear. It’s a shame as there are visuals and sequences that are more than creepy enough on their own without this obnoxious aural intrusion. House on Willow Street offers some minor scares alongside its intriguing setup and visuals…” Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

“What the repetitive film lacks in narrative drive and compelling dialogue it makes up for in technical prowess, with director/editor Orr orchestrating the outrageously violent mayhem with admirable proficiency. The creatures are particularly imaginative, often sporting grotesque tentacles that will effectively curb any appetite you have for calamari.” Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

Buy DVD: Amazon.co.uk

House on Willow Street might be alright for ‘once in a while’ thriller fans who don’t indulge often in fright flicks that in turn indulge in mid-movie exposition dumps (thank goodness for Katherine’s convenient video diary) and more jump scares than Teddy Roosevelt could shake a big stick at, for wont of a better analogy. The movie certainly looks sharp at least, with moody cinematography and snappy editing elevating atmosphere that an underachieving story has a harder time kicking up.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

“Ultimately From a House on Willow Street becomes an increasingly frustrating and predictable experience. It suffers from the editing which never allows and momentum or energy to sweep up its audience. It diminishes the scares, predictable and safe as they may be, and diverts attention away from the action into the mundane.” Andrew Mack, Screen Anarchy

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