As an individual who cannot sit through Jeepers Creepers, you can imagine the cringing I did throughout From a House on Willow Street. It was a bloody experience to say the least.
Something about the opening scenes gives the impression that the film is set in the US. Perhaps it’s the large, looming American-style’ home where the action begins. This is the house on Willow Street.
Hazel (Sharni Vinson), Ade (Steven John Ward) who seems to be Hazel’s lover, Mark (Zino Ventura) and James (Gustav Gerdener), Ade’s cousin, hatch a plot to kidnap diamond heiress Katherine (Carlyn Burchell). The plan is to hold her to ransom for the family’s diamonds.
Ade is racing against time because he will soon need to face up to the law for the accidental killing of his brother.
The foursome execute their kidnap plan which goes off without a hitch. But when no one picks up the phone when they call to make their ransom demands, they realise something is terribly wrong.
They soon discover Katherine is demented and they are going to have to fight for their lives.
The best way to describe what the characters go through is being trapped in a nightmare fuelled by your own sadness.
Horror movies aside, I had to decide whether to spend the rest of the flick grossed out and having my blood pressure raised by the freaky music and blood-curdling screams or focus on the storyline.
I concentrated on the latter. And it was solid enough to carry me through. I was impressed by the fact that it has two female leads - Hazel in the role of leader of the misfits and Katherine as the primary tormentor of the four who have unwittingly found themselves in the clutches of a demented serial killer.
That the writers took this step showed me that the film industry is slowly becoming cognisant of gender stereotypes in the industry.
It’s also wonderful to see that the cast are predominantly South African, as are the director and producer.
In a conversation with the film-makers, I asked why it couldn’t be a completely South African cast and the answer was that having at least one international face broadened its international appeal.
It’s a competent horror film which is also low budget. There weren’t many obvious markers to the fact that it was low budget which was also impressive.
However, there are some elements of the storyline that are questionable, like how the tormentor of Hazel’s soul, her charred, disfigured mother appears to save her from the demon-controlled bodies of her friends, James and Mark.
She burns the two. Is she not a spirit being? A manifestation of Hazel’s tortured soul that’s created by the demon? How does it then act against the demon?
One thing that makes no sense is why every time the spirits appear it’s merely to scare the four, not necessarily harm them. Overall it’s a solid film. One that you should enjoy if that’s your cup of tea.