Released: 16th December
Seen: 18th November (Lift-Off Film Festival)
When it comes to ghost stories, it’s very hard to get a truly great one. Ghosts are the kind of horror movie creature that can either be genuinely terrifying or goofy as hell with very little in between. I tend to like ghost movies more when the ghosts are used as some kind of metaphor, either for repressed emotions or for grief, because that lets these apparitions be used for something interesting instead of just “an excuse to make a closing door scary”. This movie used ghosts as a metaphor for grief, but it also needed to work a bit on its structure.
Widows Walk is about Eve (Miranda Raison), a recently widowed mother and her son Noah (Jamie Wannell) who go to a little house by a beach in order to get away from the world and give themselves a chance to grieve and work through the trauma but what they don’t know is that the little house that they’ve moved into also happens to have a few ghosts hanging around that are going to make it a lot harder for Eve and Noah to make it through the grieving process.
Leaning more towards a drama than a horror, the film uses the ghosts as mostly representative of lingering grief. There’s no moment during the main part of the film where the ghosts are even acknowledged as being an actual danger. They do a really smart thing with the ghosts by having them appear without a dramatic chord accompanying them. It’s rarely a jumpscare, they’re just there hovering around… until the very end when we have to wrap this up and they do more traditional ghost things but for the bulk of it, they’re there to create an uneasy tone that carries throughout the film.
The story of grief works reasonably well, aided by some great lead performances by the main family members but the problems kick in when we have to start interacting with the ghosts. Without spoiling anything, some of the ghost in this movie end up having actual storylines with the main characters and that ends up working against the film because it turns the film straight into horror and almost removes all the power it was building with these ghosts representing grief. It’s almost like the film knew it needed a big bang for the ending and instead of letting it be purely emotional, they threw in a standard “The ghosts are done playing around” ending.
The film is a little slower than I would like, taking a fair while to let us dive in and get to experience the feelings that the characters are going through. I want to see these characters trying to cope with the shocking loss of a husband and father but we take so long to get that emotional hit that by the time it gets here, it feels a little late. The atmosphere is still quite good, but I should feel a lot more impact than I do at the end of this story.
Widows Walk is an OK film, a good idea and some great visuals but it doesn’t stick the landing or have much of an impact. Let’s put it this way, I am normally able to go on for about 1000 words on most movies, even some of the blandest ones possible but this just barely gets 600 because I just can’t think of anything particularly positive or negative to expand on. It tries, it has its moments but as a whole film, it just doesn’t work.