Smoking-hot heroine. Clever paranormal premise. Painfully clueless conclusion.
Casey Beldon (Odette Yustman) is a young woman beginning to have nightmares about a strange little boy and things buried in the woods. Left alone with her own thoughts most of the time, Casey cannot shake the feeling that something undefinable is coming for her. Discovering a secret past that goes back two generations, Casey is sent to find Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman) for help, but how do you kill something that’s already dead?
It’s a rare thing to discover an obscure monster or malevolent spirit, more so when it comes with its own history. The chance to tie it into a supernatural thriller is inspiring, but that still doesn’t mean you can skimp on the writing or setting the rules. Even having a victim like Odette Yustman screaming in her underwear can’t hide poor story and missed opportunities, so the blame for this miss must be imposed upon the writer (who also happens to be the director.)
Writer/director David S. Goyer has credits from Dark City all the way up to the Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. That said, how can many ways can you say, “You should know better than this?” Perhaps his talents in complex thrillers and not in horror, but the mistakes here are from the script up. Only the most juvenile of boys and the most clueless of men wouldn’t guess what a woman throwing up (after spending the night with her boyfriend) likely indicates. It’s even worse when your so-called ending hinges on something this obvious, especially when there were so many other unexplored possibilities (pro-life vs. pro-choice being among them.)
The camera loves Odette Yustman. So does every heterosexual male eyeball. When she’s frightened out of her wits clad only in unmentionables, doubly so. And give the producers credit for using Hassidic Jewish folklore as the basis for their supernatural monster, but why did so many plot points drop? Why did the old woman recommend Oldman’s character by name? How was the entity disposed of originally? What the heck happened to daddy? Ugh. Oh, and a half skull penalty for wasting both Gary Oldman’s time and talent.
(a one skull recommendation out of four)