Ali Larter took center screen at the 10th Annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival last night in this spin on the haunted house tale, that to my way of thinking could have been a tad longer to expand on the mythology and story that the film wanted to introduce and play with, because otherwise, some of the events in the film feel too coincidental.
Ali Larter plays Madison, single mother to two children, young Jacob (Max Rose) who is trying to deal with his anger issues, and darling little Haley (Chloe Perrin). They live in a house that is getting beyond their means, as Madison toys with the idea of filing for bankruptcy.
But their house has more going on it than just a struggling family living in it. It seems to be turning into the focal point for strange activity; there are lightning flashes, strange apparitions that seem to be taking on more and more solidity each time they appear, floating and moving objects.
Madison has had paranormal investigators to the house, and they are unable to provide answers, she has someone wanting to buy the house, but the children fall ill should they step too far away from the front porch.
Her boyfriend, and son’s tutor, Miguel (Wilmer Calderon) wants to help and he has the scientific know-how to do it. Which should raise some flags right off the bat… but this is something that in a longer film they could have played with, because it’s revealed he used to work for the same people who want to buy her home, and their agenda is not exactly above board.
There are some cool ideas at play here, especially once you rumble what is really going on, and if you’re paying attention, it’s revealed pretty early in the film, so the reveal later on, doesn’t really tell you anything you hadn’t figured out.
That being said, it is a sweet idea, and if character and plot had been filled out a little more, beefing up the story structure, as well as some of the moments, this one could have been something really cool. Instead, it passably holds the interest, and that’s due to the always likeable Ali Larter.
There are holes later on, especially once everything is revealed, there is the question of motivations, and actions… I think it just needed to be a little stronger.
It hinted at the possibility of a creep factor, but by showing us everything right from the beginning, as strange entities start accosting Madison and her family, there is nothing to keep in the shadows. We see the creatures right from the get-go, and if you don’t buy into them, or want something left to the imagination, it could be a long 86 minutes.
I’d love to see Legrand revisit this story, expand it, delve into the mystery and the terror that this family is experiencing. There is an opportunity for wonder and horror here, but it feels too rushed to let you actually savor the possibilities.
And as a side note, I personally am tired of these single word titles that are meant to imbue the film with an ominous intensity, I want something fresh, clever, and doesn’t think I know a word’s definition…
What are you seeing After Dark?