Things go bump in the night once a couple begin working on a old house with a history…
We’ve heard nary a peep from ghosts in the cinema lately. You might be thinking that that’s completely wrong, and we’ve had haunted house films a-plenty with Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister, The Conjuring, and all their many sequels, prequels and sidequels. But the fact is it’s deeply unhip to put a ghost in a ghost picture nowadays, so instead all the aforementioned and more make do with demons. Demons may appeal to lazy screenwriters because their abilities and weaknesses are very loosely defined, and unlike with zombies or vampires, they don’t come with the obligation of explaining what version of the rules is in play. They do have the drawback of implying some kind of Christian framework – though the slightly superior The Possession made use of Jewish folkloric imagery instead, and a couple of djinn-based pictures have trickled out, too – and usually make a bit of a hash of their theology (when they even bother with it). But, on the other hand, superstitious American audiences probably respond more viscerally to demons – who are pure evil – than they do to ghosts, who are only dearly departed humans, notwithstanding the pure spite of ghosts in Ringu or The Woman in Black.
In Restoration, a young couple who aren’t quite Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson move into a crumbly old house, which not-Wilson is intending to patch up. Bad choice! You’ve only gone and released a ghost, who’s actually a demon pretending to be a ghost. Twofer horror isn’t something we see very often, is it? How about vampire sharks? Zombie dinosaurs? A Frankenstein’s monster who’s actually a zombie housing the ghost of a serial killer who was actually a demon pretending to be a mummy who’d been resurrected as a vampire in order to cover up his lycanthropy? Yeah. Anyway the couple continues to investigate, and to get spooked out at appropriate intervals by things like a creepy-looking teddy bear or some scary hallucinations. The investigation takes them some time because the plot is fiendishly complex, and every time they think they’ve reached the bottom of things, another twist comes along to blindside them. I shan’t spoil any of those twists here, but each of them falls into one of two categories: telegraphed to the point of obviousness, or shockingly unexpected because totally nonsensical.
The couple also have a couple of creepy friends, Harold and Francine. Zack Ward plays Harold as a totally unlikeable hipster dickhead, while Sarah Ann Schultz’s Francine is an unrestrained fruit loop who has a creepy lesbian obsession with not-Byrne. There’s a totally gratuitous shot of her wiping some spilt wine from her breast in slow-motion, which makes no sense if it’s not intended to be from not-Byrne’s perspective (and it’s not). In general, the direction is hampered by an excess of style. It’s flashy and shallow, like a music video, but props should go to the cinematography and the editing, which do create a solemn, almost artsy vibe which may confuse some viewers into thinking they’re watching a much better movie than they are.
Restoration arrives on VOD today (3rd April), will you be braving it? Let us know in the comment box below!