As with the recent Julia's Eyes, I'm very aware that I don't want to give any spoilers for this new horror movie. Suffice to, it involves a family moving to a new house, which they first assume is haunted, only to find that the source of the disturbances is their son, Josh (this is in the trailer, so not a spoiler). I can't say a great deal more, except to say that it owes a huge debt to
Steven Spielberg's Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist (and surprisingly little to Saw, director James Wan's notorious brainchild).
The good things - the acting is, on balance, fine and it's always good to see Barbara Hershey getting screen time (she was the best thing about Black Swan, lest we forget). The premise is spooky enough in an unoriginal way and I can't sit here typing away pretending that I didn't jump, beacuse I did (N.B. I jump pretty easily). Also, it's not too long - 100 minutes is just within the limits of acceptability for such popcorn fare.
And not so good? Well, as mentioned above this is not an original plotline, and the film is shot through with the kind of horror cliche that you would've thought Scream had put to bed years ago. And while it does make you jump it's pretty light on genuine suspense or fear - for all my jerking around in the seat (as it were), at no point was I actually scared. In particular, as the mechanics of the hauntings become clear in the second half of the movie the fear factor diminishes considerably.
All that said, it is certainly a very intelligent use of a small budget - a mere $1.5m (on which there has been a return of $70m so far - not bad, given that there's a DVD rake to come too) and it's been getting decent enough word of mouth to have had a run of over a month so far. The frights are efficient, if you're not too desensitised to the scares from watching too many horror flicks (ahem) and while I didn't particularly enjoy it, I'm sure other people will.