Fantasia Festival 2018: The Witch in the Window (World Premiere 2018)

The Witch in the Window (2018)

The Witch in the Window

Director (and writer): Andy Mitton

Cast: Alex Draper, Charlie Tacker, Carol Stanzione, Greg Naughton, Arija Bareikis

When Simon brings his twelve year-old son, Finn, to rural Vermont to help flip an old farmhouse, they encounter the malicious spirit of Lydia, a previous owner. And now with every repair they make – she’s getting stronger. – IMDB

The Witch in the Window is the next project of Andy Mitton, the director of We Go On. Just like his last project, he takes on many hats as director, writer, editor and composer.  Whereas his first film is about proving the supernatural existence of afterlife, The Witch in the Window is about a family drama, entrapment and belonging in a haunted house setting. The story starts about a deemed witch by the community children because of how she acts when she was alive and how she died by the window. The deeper story here is what takes the building tension to the next level with some effective atmosphere build-up that creates equally effective jump-scares.

The Witch in the Window

This is a slow burn movie that takes a lot of its fear in its lurking details in a literal way. With a title like The Witch in the Window, it pulls your eyes directly to the windows in the shots naturally. In the most subtle ways, it is also these moments that bring on the haunting feeling of someone lingering just in the corner of your eyes which is what makes it so effective. It also does have some of the horror tropes like the nervous neighbor who cautions the new owner or the various knocks and creaks in the old house but because of the well use of silence and isolation of certain sounds, these moments build the tension effectively. While there are some moments which make us question our character’s action as well but this horror story is unique in the way it structures around the development of these characters. In many ways, the tone also wraps the house itself in its own character because the house is new to this father and son and as they learn about it in the beginning, so is the audience, making what to expect especially har do predict.

The Witch in the Window

What makes this film stand out is the bonding of the father and son relationship. There is the mystery as to why the son Finn (played by Charlie Tacker) is sent to “exile” for whatever he was snooping into on the Internet due to his curiosity which clearly had some lingering effects but then pairs it with his self-aware nature who casually asks if there is some dark gory history about the house the moment he lays his eyes on it. However, he is also showing his youth when he doesn’t understand some.of the other terms like flipping a house. On the other hand, his father Simon (played by Alex Draper) has a few secrets of his own that we as the audience get to discover. For starters, he has a heart condition that weakens him and also his dedication to repairing this house. The bond may start off weaker in the beginning but as the film moves along, the one thing stronger than the horror is in the strength the world during apocalypse.

In the true form of a thriller, this slow burn indie film uses the run time efficiently to make it a gradually tense experience. There are a few twists to it that create the unique foundation of this film. As with We Go On, Andy Mitton has an out of the ordinary vision to his stories and the same applies here, especially with the ending itself that might just take you by surprise.

Fantasia Festival 2016: We Go On (2016)

It has been a few days since the last Fantasia Festival film. I was tempted to add in a movie in between but decided that it was better to rest up. The last stretch after this one is going to be intense. You will see soon enough. Next up is We Go On hosted by co-director Andy Mitton and actor Jay Dunn.

We Go On (2016)

Director: Jesse Holland & Andy Mitton

Cast: Clark Freeman, Jay Dunn, Annette O’Toole, Laura Heisler, John Glover, Giovanna Zacarias

We Go On carries a great premise of defining the point where skepticism and curiosity and belief in the afterlife collide. Miles has an immaculate fear of death. It is so severe that he fears everything. In a desperate moment, he determines that the way to not be scared anymore is to find someone who can show him that there is more after death. It isn’t lights out but rather we go on. Do you not time to time, even momentarily wonder if there is more? Perhaps it is why this movie resounds even more to those who wonder. (Myself included.)

We Go On is unique because of how it sets up the story. It sets an unsettling atmosphere. At the same time, this year’s films have been about heart and detail and this one is no exception.  We Go On takes the experts that Miles (played by Clark Freeman) chooses to visit with his extremely skeptical mother (played by Annette O’Toole) and leaves us pieces of clues and it all comes in use in the end. It reminds us of the details.  At the same time, while it keeps us at the edge of our seat wondering if whatever exists in the afterlife does or doesn’t, it allows us time to not only breathe but laugh. Humor, drama and horror is all wrapped in We Go On.

We Go On

With its few characters that revolves around our main character Miles, our focus never leaves Miles and his movements and little expressions that suggest much more. We can see his fear, doubts, and equally his hope and disappointments. Among the stellar cast, Miles’ character truly grasps the uneasy and desperate feeling. There is fear, tension and so much more.On this journey as mentioned before is his reluctant but protectively caring mother played by Annette O’Toole who captures the role perfectly and it is her that makes us laugh the most with her disbelief and sarcastic/snarky interjections. Alongside this unexpected horror duo focused on the relationship of this mother and son relationship trying to get through this is an unexpected visitor Nelson that comes into the story. He is played by Jay Dunn and he truly takes Nelson to a place where its an area of uneasy and something incredibly mysterious about this character in the beginning before diving straight into some really creepy bits.

There are a lot of aspects done right from getting good locations and a tight knit story and the pacing, despite it being slow, is still engaging. However, where this seems to fall apart a little is in its final act. The story seemed to get lost in finding its way out to wrap up this entire ordeal. The way it ended felt a little underwhelming and didn’t have quite the shock value it may have meant to have. However, any further would be entering spoiler territory.

For those who can appreciate a slow burning movie, We Go On has a lot to offer. However, this is a quiet film. One that takes the time to develop and build a connection with Miles and the few characters like his mother and his eventual “buddy”, Nelson. A lot is not in dialogue but reaction and expressions.  Despite its lackluster finale, the sum of everything especially the atmosphere and the stellar performances makes up sufficiently to create a genuine and natural supernatural film filled with dread and humor.