HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Watcher in the Woods, The That time Sabrina the teenage witch remade a Disney horror movie
Year: 2017
Director: Melissa Joan Hart
Stars: Anjelica Huston, Tallulah Evans, Nicholas Galitzine, Dixie Egerickx, Rufus Wright, Melanie Gutteridge, Benedict Taylor, Melanie Walters
Genre: Horror, Drama, Fantasy, TV MovieBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: American teenager Jan Carstairs (Tallulah Evans) reluctantly accompanies her family to spend the summer at Aylwood manor, an idyllic estate near a remote Welsh village. Where Jan is immediately spooked by former owner Mrs. Aylwood (Anjelica Huston). At night she spies the old woman roaming the woods up to antics a few locals suspect might be witchcraft. Strange occurrences at the house start to unnerve the Carstairs family and Jan begins to suspect they have something to do with the mysterious disappearance of Mrs. Aylwood's daughter, thirty-seven years ago.

Made at a time when the Walt Disney studio was desperate to re-brand itself for a modern audience the original The Watcher in the Woods (1980) was an infamously troubled production. Intended as a family-friendly horror or what producer Tom Leetch pitched, remarkably enough, as Disney's take on The Exorcist (1973), the finished film was marred by hasty re-shoots and post-production tampering that rendered its climax all but incomprehensible. Nevertheless over time the Disney adaptation of Florence Engel Randall's spooky 1976 young adult novel amassed a cult following. One such fan happened to be Nineties pop culture icon Melissa Joan Hart, star of teen television shows Clarissa Explains It All and the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch, who directed this made-for-TV remake.

Originally broadcast on the Lifetime network the new The Watcher in the Woods is hampered by overly bright, sanitized, TV-safe visuals that undo Hart's sporadic though valiant attempts to weave an eerie atmosphere. Interestingly while the font used on promotional material seems calculated to evoke Stranger Things, Hart appears to be less influenced by Eighties nostalgia than James Wan movies as she assails her protagonists with spooky whispers, loud bangs, jumps scares and prowling 'demon-cam.' Awkward digital effects make literal what would be better off ambiguous. As does a mid-plot flashback that clarifies the fate of Karen Aylwood too soon. In a charming touch the script relocates her disappearance to the year the original film was released. While the 'scary' sequences will likely only unnerve under-twelves a handful, including when living vines drag Jan under the lake or the brief glimpse of a sinister looking creature in a pocket mirror, are well handled and tense.

If the 1980 film has the edge in terms of ambiance and production value, Hart's version delivers a far more coherent take on Randall's premise. Which remains arguably one of the most original and inventive in the young adult fantasy genre. New lead Tallulah Evans easily eclipses memories of Lynn-Holly Johnson as a less winsome, more faceted Jan while Anjelica Huston brings conviction to the supporting star turn previously inhabited by Bette Davis. Hart's film establishes Jan and hunky love interest Paul (Mark Fleming) as smart, rational kids who intelligently piece the mystery together, emphasizing the young heroine's perceptive nature and capacity for empathy as qualities to be encouraged in young viewers. Central to the plot is Jan's ability to see, hear and ultimately decipher things the more skeptical grownups dismiss out of hand, including both her parents (Rufus Wright and Melanie Gutteridge) whose hostility in the face of mounting evidence grows downright dense. Unlike the Disney film this does not tack on a third-act science fiction twist and stays true to the original supernatural story. Hart does a better job clarifying the emotional stakes for Jan who ends up risking all to save not only the abducted girl but also her own sister (Dixie Egerickx). Even so for all these positives, along with the plot simply holding together a lot better, this remains an insipid take on material whose potential remains frustratingly unrealized.


Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1635 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: