I watched this over the weekend because a) I like a good ghost story b) I wanted to see if Daniel Radcliffe could take the Harry Potter out of Daniel Radcliffe...(er something). So what did I think? On a a whole it was entertaining. Not THE best movie, but it held my interest and had some good points. Let me preface this by saying that I have watched sooooo many horror movies that I've pretty much seen it all. So yes, it had some typical and cliche elements:
- The ghost appearances, particularly near the beginning, were just what you'd expect: glimpses from the corner of the eye, a sudden flash of movement or a shadow, emphasized by some strategically placed music. I often wondered if these scenes would be as creepy without the music. I mean, where would Paranormal Activity be without it? (which I did like by the way, at least the first one...but they relied TOO much on shock music to emphasize that the door opened by itself. Really. Just stop it.)
- It takes place in a remote village where people seem generally distrustful of outsiders. No fooling. They told him to go home several times. But he didn't listen. If he had, there wouldn't have been a movie.
- There's an ominous message written on the wall in the house--in blood, no less. At least the woman was kind enough to hide it under the wallpaper. Not suprisingly, Harry...er, "Arthur" peels away the wallpaper and...cue the dramatic heart-jumping-in-your-throat music. It is, of course, a pivotal moment. Otherwise he wouldn't have known how crazy the woman was when she was alive.
- The family has conveniently left behind a multitude of letters, cards and documents that explain the mystery behind why this ghost is doing what she's doing. So basically they did all the work for him--he just needed to find the bodies and bury them together to make peace for the ghost lady. (Ironically the boy's body was quite easy to find, all Harry...er, "Arthur" had to do was dig in the mud a little. AND he was able to figure out exactly where, even though years had gone by and nobody else had been able to.)
- Children are suffer cruel and unusual deaths and come back as ghosts. Evil-ish creepy little ghosts. Think the twin girls in The Shining before the tomato juice tidal wave comes down the hallway.
Mr. Radcliffe successfully escaped Voldemort and became a full fledged adult male--actually, if I hadn't already known he was the star of the movie, I probably wouldn't have realized who he was in the first five minutes. It would've been like 'damn, he looks familiar...' and it would've bugged me until I googled it and found out who he actually was. So YAY! I think Daniel Radcliffe really can be de-Harry Pottered.
I did find it hard to believe that he had a child, so the father/son thing didn't really jive for me. And honestly, I don't think the plot would've been affected if they'd left out the whole dead wife thing either. YES, he was supposed to be tortured, and he did come across that way...sorta...but the movie wouldn't have lacked anything without it. There was a nice twist at the end, though (dampened a bit by the appearance of his dead wife) that I hadn't expected. I won't give it away.
So would I recommend it? Yes. If you like ghost stories, watch it. It's well done, just not overly original.