Plot: Simon (Alex Draper) is separated from his wife Beverly (Arija Bareikis), but the two remain close and work together to provide the best possible life for their son, young Finn (Charlie Thacker). After a series of incidents with Finn acting out, Beverly feels more than a little overwhelmed and sees urban New York as rich with potential problems for her son. This leads to her asking Simon to lend a hand and he agrees to take Finn for a few weeks, as he ventures into a rural area to do some remodeling work on a house he has purchased. While in the idyllic countryside, Simon tries to reach out to his son and help him navigate what is clearly a troubled time in his adolescence, but has little luck getting Finn to open up. But when the two learn about a creepy old woman who died inside the house, Finn becomes interested and soon, the father and son learn the woman’s spirit might still be present in the home.
Entertainment Value: This was not a fun one, a slow, drawn out family drama pushed like an eerie horror movie. So despite how this one was marketed, The Witch in the Window is more drama than horror and in truth, there is very little in terms of scares or even atmosphere present. I don’t mind a slow burn at all, but this was glacial and the build up had no payoff, so despite a run time under 80 minutes, this one felt like a chore to sit through. The narrative has some potential, but focuses on a sad dad’s desperate attempts to bond with his unlikable son, which just drags down the entire movie, as that thread offers little to no interest. The conversations are tedious and predictable, the performances are bland, and the family drama is mundane, so The Witch in the Window just feels flat. The ghost story element allows for a spark of hope, only for that to vanish and offer no chills or scares in the process. I found this to be a dull, lifeless movie that leans on misleading marketing to lure in horror fans, so I can’t give The Witch in the Window even a tepid recommendation.
In a movie like this that opts for drama over scares or atmosphere, you need an interesting narrative or at least good performances to carry the movie, but sadly this picture offers neither. Alex Draper has the lead role and he does what he can here, but the material isn’t able to give him room to shine. He comes off like a lame dad, but without the humor or cheesiness of the usual movie dads, so he just feels like a hipster and not even a memorable one. I think Draper performs about as well as he could, since the movie doesn’t give him much to do or much depth to work with, but his turn still leaves a lot to be desired. The rest of the cast follows suit, passable enough efforts, but forgettable at best. Perhaps sharper dialogue or just more interesting characters could have worked wonders here, but who knows. The cast also includes Carol Stanzione, Charlie Thacker, and Arija Bareikis.
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