The Witch in the Window could have been a fantastic horror movie or a fantastic mystery thriller. The problems arise when it tries to be both and doesn’t quite do either of them very well. Its a shame because the set-up is full of potential, and although its not a very original concept, it is told with some great writing and great moments.
Its the usual “father and son buy a derelict house with supernatural secrets” set-up but the first clear strength is the acting and writing. Although the set-up is fairly cliché, the way the relationship between the father and son is written, and then delivered, feels very natural. The cast are unknowns, with the Dad (Simon) played by Alex Draper and the son, (Finn) played by Charlie Tacker. Neither of them play the roles hammy and the film takes it time to set-up the central mystery.
Its clear from the outset there is something “wrong” with the house and plenty of moments point this out perfectly. The film is called The Witch in the Window and it doesn’t disappoint on that front, frequently having the titular character standing ominously but innocuously in the back on scenes, glimpsed in mirrors or heard whispering, barely audible, but enough to make you wonder. Of course the Dad is sceptical and of course the son believes it, but this makes sense and it just helps build the horror very slowly.
It would be easy for The Witch in the Window to then rely on jump-scares, but that’s not the direction the movie takes. Halfway through, the film fully reveals the antagonist, in one of the best and most perfectly crafted horrors scenes I have watched in a long time, and the movie becomes more about who the lady is than whether she is dangerous and will hurt this family.
At this point, the film becomes more of a mystery thriller and unfortunately, this aspect is far too rushed. There is a great idea at the focus of this movie which is teased and slowly revealed but then once revealed, it tries to hard to tie-up loose ends as quickly as possible, without letting the newly revealed story-aspect really bed-in and take hold. There is a third-act twist which turns the film on its head and when this happens, the movie feels like it is rushing to the end, just when it has becomes its most interesting.
Overall, The Witch in the Window has a great idea at the centre of the story which could be used effectively as a horror concept or a thriller concept but this movie decides to try to a bit of both… and doesn’t achieve it. There are some great tense, slow build scares and two stand-out scenes which will terrify, but once the most interesting aspect of the film is revealed, it rushes to the end rather than focusing and playing to its strengths.
Rating – 3.5
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