Altar is a horror/mystery film written and directed by Nick Willing and stars Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense), Matthew Modine (The Dark Knight Rises) and Antonia Clarke (Les Miserables).
A young family moves to an isolated estate that the wife has been hired to restore, only to discover that the previous owner is reputed to have murdered his wife.
Haunting style horror films have been all over the screens in the last few years, some of them have been phenomenal, but some have been quite a flop. Altar is right in the middle of "phenomenal" and "flop." There were some pretty good elements to the film, but overall, I found it to be a bit boring. The house was beautifully creepy and the actors were great, but the script was not as good as it could have been.
The plot of this film has been done a million times before. The best way that I can describe Altar is a mixture of a watered down version of Stanley Kubrick's 1980 scare-fest, The Shining and any other generic haunting film that you can think of. The series of events in this film are just like those of any other similar film in the subgenre. It all starts with some subtle bangs, a whole lot of denial and begins to escalate from there.
I'm not even quite sure that I would classify this as a horror film even. There were a few eerie moments teamed up with some cheesy effects, but nothing that was overtly scary. The action doesn't even begin to get remotely frightening or even interesting until the film is almost half way through.
The best part of the film was the ending. Not just because it signified the end of the film, but it was actually the best written part of the movie. At first, I thought that the end was going to be subpar at best, I even said, "Really, this is how they're going to end it?!" out loud. But! There is a twist at the very end (and shows us exactly why you should watch a movie all the way to the credits) that surprised me. I really wish the rest of the film was as well written as it's climax.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate the film, but I can't say that I loved it either. I am going to have to give Alter a 5. It was so close to being a really spectacular film with such a great cast and a promising plot line, but sadly the entire film just fell short.
Alter is available on DVD today (February 17) everywhere films are sold.
Check out its trailer below: