By Randol Corniel
After her son’s death in a car accident in India, Maria is deep in the abyss known as depression and is plagued by guilt. During the accident, she chose to save her youngest daughter Lucy from the sinking car and abandoned Oliver as he screamed for her to save him. Six years later and after a failed attempt at suicide Maria is told about a temple where people can speak to the dead one last time by her house keeper Piki. Piki warns Maria that once she meets Oliver no matter what happens she must not open the temple door. Maria meets with Oliver and in a moment of desperation opens the doors freeing Oliver’s spirit to become corrupted and haunt the rest of her family, she must now find a way to appease Oliver and atone for her past mistakes.
Actors & Performance:
The acting in the movie is alright at best; the actors are not terribly bad but are not superb either. While Maria (played by Sarah Wayne Callies) does a good job at conveying her guilt, desperation, and intense need for son Oliver, the rest of the actors fall short with her husband (portrayed by Jeremy Sisto) and daughter (played by Sofia Rosinsky) being glorified extras. Not all is bad , however since I found that her housekeeper Piki played her role quite well adding to the tension and built of the story while also serving as the wise elder that guides Maria (portrayed by Suchitra Pillai-Malik) and gives her the instructions to resolve the conflict. Another performance that I found enjoyable was that of the various ashen shaman that follow Maria around after she releases Oliver they serve as tension builders and have a number of enjoyable jump scares as well as an interesting backstory. Lastly, I also enjoyed Oliver’s performance, not his psychical manifestation (played by Logan Creran) but of his voice done by Jax Malcolm, I find his voice to be the most disturbing element of the film seeing as it sounds so innocent and youthful while his spirit is doing evil and vile things.
The cinematography is done well I suppose for the purpose of the movie which is to be a horror film. The movie is set India, with the temple being in the tribe on the outskirts of the city this adds to the voodoo-ish vibe of the whole ritual Maria must partake in, in order to speak with Oliver. The rest is pretty standard ominous music, lots of scenes in darkness or low-light, and horrifying occurrences leading up to the climax where the spirit is finally challenged and appeased or expelled. Overall is very standard and run of the mill.
There’s not a real emphasis on color in the movie since the lighting is mostly darker for the tension and horror scenes, and natural light for the daylight “normal scenes”.
The editing in the film is designed to build the tension in the story, the director does a lot of jump cuts in order to either build up the pace and raise blood pressure or to distract the viewer to set up for a jump scare. This is often shown when Maria is shown with her attention focused elsewhere and the director jump cuts behind her to find that a shaman appeared behind her out of nowhere. The director also uses flashbacks to show what happened with Oliver and to build the story and Maria’s guilt for abandoning her son.
The lighting plays a huge role in the film because most of the “action” takes place in settings with low light to emphasize the dread of the situation. In the temple, the lighting is dark and gets progressively darker as the time to meet Oliver closes in. It’s also dark when Oliver returns to the house and makes Maria read him a book. Every time Oliver is seen interacting with someone or is in the area it is dimly lit or darker emphasizing his corrupted spirit and how he progressively gets more dangerous. Overall, the whole film is dark with rare moments of light when they’re outside or at the beginning of the film before Oliver’s death.
Music, Sound Effects, & Dialogue:
Music also plays an important role in the movie seeing as they add to the mood of each scene. When Maria reveals that she’s pregnant there’s soft music playing very relaxing, then at the time of Oliver’s death the music was frantic and desperate. At the temple it was ominous and eerie, and anytime Oliver appears the music takes on an eerie childlike lullaby quality.
The movie had a great concept but average execution, it was disappointing.