So, the other day I was digging around for something to watch and I tripped over the movie House on Willow Street. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a possession flick so I decided to give it a go. After watching House on Willow Street, I found out that it’s a South African horror that was directed by Alistair Orr. Originally the movie’s title was From a House on Willow Street and had its first showing August 2016 at the London FrightFest Film Festival. In March 2017, House on Willow Street was released on the internet (Amazon, iTunes etc.) and had a limited run in theaters. On August 1st, 2017, Shout! Factory released House on Willow Street on Blu-ray.
What’s this possessed title about? For eighty-six-minutes we watch what happens after four individuals (Hazel, Ade, James, and Mark) kidnap Katherine, the daughter of a jewelry dealer. The plan was simple: kidnap Katherine, make a ransom video, and get paid. When no one answers the ransom call, Ade and James return to Katherine’s home to see what’s going on. Not seeing any movement in the house, Ade and James go inside to look around. Horrified by what they find, Ade and James hurry back to the hideout to tell the others. Unfortunately, by the time Ade and James make it back to the hideout, it’s too late. What ever evil was unleashed in Katherine’s home… is now after them.
I’ve got to give it to the writers (Catherine Blackman, Jonathan Jordaaan & Alastair Orr). At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like the movie, but its quick pace sucked me in. They really don’t waste any time with this one. Before you know, it Pandora’s box is open, and everyone is running for their lives. In eighty-six-minutes, the writers managed to squeeze in a pretty good storyline, backstory on the characters and antagonist, great visuals, and a whole lot of evil running amok. I was totally on board with this movie until the end, and that’s where everything when downhill for me. It seemed like the final act of the movie was rushed and summed things up too quickly and conveniently. It was like they pulled a play from Thirteen Ghosts (2001), which would’ve been cool, but House on Willow Street’s story lacked the build up to cover that kind of ending.
The pace of the movie makes sure no one can get bored while watching it. Alastair Orr crammed a lot of entertainment, be it visuals or story, into every scene. I liked the way everyone’s backstory was wrapped into the story and I thought it all blended together well. I was impressed by how well they were able to build suspenseful scenes with the quick pace of the movie. I was expecting the movie to be filled with more jumps scares. House on Willow Street could have been a good movie, but the ending seriously brings down the overall film.
As for the cast, some of the faces you’ll see is Sharni Vinson (You’re Next), Carlyn Burchell (Robocop 2014), Steven Ward (Angel of the Skies), Zino Ventura, and Gustav Gerderner (Blood and Glory). I thought everyone did a good job, but I thought Carlyn Burchell did a killer job with the whole being possessed thing. Burchell pulled off being super creepy and sometimes even scary. What made Burchell stand out to me were a few creepy scenes before we find out she is possessed.
Now, House on Willow Street is unrated but does have language and violence. There are not a lot of gory moments, but things definitely get bloody as the movie unfolds. The effects look really good, and I’d say the effects were some of the best things the film had going for it. The makeup for Katherine’s slow change was seriously cool looking. Also, the sets they used helped up the creep factor for the story.
Now, if you’re hoping for some super cool special features on the Blu-ray, I’m afraid you’ll only find some bare bones special-ness. The special features for House on Willow Street are…
Overall, it’s a film I wish I could tell people to check out because it had so much going for it. But in the end… it’s almost not worth watching.