Title: The Curse of the Witching Tree
Release: May 2015
Horror Sub-genre: Paranormal - Haunted house
Synopsis: “An innocent woman, accused of murdering her son and hanged as a witch, curses a tree and the children who play around it. The effects of this act of revenge echo through the years and centuries, and restless spirits haunt the house where the bodies of the cursed children have been buried. A family move into their new home, and begin to uncover the terrible truth behind The Witching Tree and the murdered children upon which they unknowingly sleep"(Excerpt from IMDB)
Overview: The Curse of the Witching Tree is the latest entry in the crowded and continuously growing haunted house sub-genre. The plot for most if not all films in this categorized field are typically; vengeful spirit(s) vs helpless newly settled resident(s). With such a basic premise why do we, as viewers become enthralled with such a regurgitated storyline? The answer perhaps may lie in our hopes of unique frights, atmospheric overtones, or perhaps a revamp with modernized approach and or effects.
The Curse of the Witching Tree however doesn’t succeed nor does it fail at reinventing the haunted house theme/genre. Atmospherics, that sense of dread of an approaching terror or that unsettling feel of suspense were seldom used in the film. Yet, when implemented allowed key scenes to shine and attract the viewer within the story. The script however is basic and fairly written. From the opening scene, (which presented questionable historical statistics) to the climatic ending scene, The Curse of the Witching Tree is what you’d expect from a paranormal themed film. To summarize in one word; Typical.
Scare Factor: The Curse of the Witching Tree offers mild scares. For the recreational horror fan this approach may suffice but horror connoisseurs would find the film boresome. The frights are simple, and lightly executed which is not a bad idea considering “jump scares” are predominantly used as a cheap tactic by many horror movies. One frightening scene in particular occurs when a group of malicious teens overpower their feeble classmate within the haunted home thus stirring some malicious spirits of its own. The overall feel in this scene is more suspenseful than horror and it was executed well. Granted it may not have offered eye covering fright, but the delivery offers a sinister exposé on the entity residing within the home. Overall, its worth the watch if you’re in the mood for a ghost story without overabundant frights and scares.
Performances: The characters weren’t believable nor did they grasp any emotional connection from the viewer. The trouble doesn’t lie with the film, script or portrayals itself. Its the fact that if you’ve seen one film in the haunted house sub-genre you’ve seen them all. The characters are carbon copies of themselves with different names and scenarios. From the rebellious eldest daughter to the Psychic Medium to the mother in denial of paranormal circumstances, The Curse of the Witching Tree offers the traditional family terrorized by spectral forces template. However, that doesn’t deter nor take away the efforts from the talented actors bringing these characters to life. Their portrayals were on par and reflected that of seasoned actors. Absent are the emotionless and amateurish acting most commonly found in small budget horror movies.
Final Verdict: The Curse of the Witching Tree is a low budget horror film with the potential to become a cult classic. The film has garnered the attention of many and as of the time of this writing the production team have hinted via Twitter on creating a sequel. Personally, I’d appreciate a companion to this film, or perhaps a trilogy. The Curse of the Witching Tree is not perfect and regardless of its flaws the film is a very entertaining. In addition, given the small production budget credit should be given to everyone involved in creating a good horror film. Strip away the cliched characters, incorporate unique frights, revamp the entity for terrifying visuals and The Curse of the Witching Tree 2 and/or (3) can and will have the potential to become a bigger hit.