A Haunting at Silver Falls Brett Donowho

A Haunting at Silver Falls Brett Donowho
3
During the opening kill scene of A Haunting at Silver Falls, a young girl flees through the woods, panicked, eventually hiding behind a tree, her eyes darting around exaggeratedly. It's difficult to tell what exactly is going on amidst the subpar cinematography and less than graceful composition, just as it's difficult to care about a situation devoid of any tension or context. In a way, this mostly unnecessary sequence, existing only to adhere to genre expectations, frames this straight-to-DVD ghost story perfectly, pointing out that the filmmakers are versed in horror theory, but not particularly competent or visionary when it comes to constructing their addition to the lexicon. This is particularly evident during the party scene that follows, where Jordan (Alix Elizabeth Gitter), the new girl in town, hassles the local drug dealer for overcharging her unlikely love interest, Larry (James Cavlo) — an overdone and over-performed brainer cliché — revealing her rebellious, darker side, which is verbalized more than shown. Beyond a general lack of visual consistency, exacerbated by an obviously limited budget, there's a staginess to everything and an unnaturalness to all of the dialogue, most of which is exceedingly stilted and illogical, which makes it difficult to navigate and embrace this constructed world or establish much of a connection with our plucky newcomer protagonist. But once we get the rushed lowdown on her recently deceased parents and her general ambivalence about having to stay with her relatives, Kevin (Steve Bacic) and Anna (Tara Westwood), a mysterious ring, some eerie visual identifiers and occasional night terrors replace these laboured attempts to develop characters out of genre stereotypes. Though nothing about this haunting-as-metaphor ghost story is ever remotely scary, the presentation of rebellious teen acts — invading privacy and theft — as otherworldly manifestations does suggest that some thought went into the preparation. The apparition in A Haunting at Silver Falls is very much a part of the surface narrative, visible throughout most of the film, but there's a sense that Jordan's spiritual hallucinations and nightmares may very well be a scapegoat tactic or psychic defence mechanism against rejection while adapting to a new, discomforting situation. And when she wakes up with a moist, sticky finger, covered in sweat, after the ghost aggressively tries to slide the ring off, the suggestion of a subconscious sexual awakening as a monstrous act within her psychology appears a distinct possibility. It's just unfortunate that Donowho isn't overly interested in examining this potential mental break. He also fails to demonstrate any visual or narrative indicators of metaphoric intent, suggesting that our perspective as viewers is merely a subjective glance at Jordan's inner-state. Instead, the overlong takes and atrocious edits merely lead to a cheap twist that wouldn't have been so laughable had tone and the audience's viewpoint been considered or factored into the equation. Unsurprisingly, there are no supplements with this DVD to help expand upon whether or not anyone had any intentions loftier than making a very superficial, throwaway ghost movie. (Anchor Bay)