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.