DVD REVIEW: A HAUNTING AT SILVER FALLS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: BRETT DONOWHO / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: ALIX ELIZABETH GITTER, ERICK AVARI, STEVE BACIC, TARA WESTWOOD, JAMES CAVLO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Following her father’s death, Jordan goes to live with her aunt and uncle in the supposedly haunted town of Silver Falls. Jordan’s new boyfriend, a nerdy Rick Moranis lookalike called Larry, takes her to a party in the woods but they become separated when the party is busted by the police. Wandering through the trees, Jordan finds a ring in the undergrowth and puts it on without even realising what she is doing. When she returns home the ring brings the spirits of two murdered girls back home with her. The girls want Jordan to uncover the truth about who killed them, and paranormal activity begins to build up around Jordan thick and fast; objects go missing, photographs are mysteriously rearranged, and Jordan’s bedroom door starts opening and shutting of its own accord. Soon the ghosts are trying to tear the ring off Jordan’s finger while she sleeps, and in her dreams Jordan’s back in the woods, only to wake up in her own bedroom with mud on her feet. And she can’t remove the ring. “It’s like it chose me,” she tells Larry.
And then Jordan starts to see the ghosts for herself. Two twin girls, all straggly hair and black-rimmed eyes, who follow her wherever she goes.
When the ghosts lead Jordan to a bar and point out a TV news report about a man on death row who is about to be executed for the murder of the Dahl twins, she knows who the ghosts are. She also knows that the soon-to-be-executed man is innocent.
A Haunting at Silver Falls is like Nancy Drew meets The Sixth Sense. It’s not really a horror film, it’s a ghost story for the Veronica Mars generation and, to that extent, it does its job well. Alix Elizabeth Gitter is a solid and likeable lead, James Cavlo is believable as the geek-who-gets-the-girl and Steve Bacic and Tara Westwood do their best as the slightly too-young and quirky aunt and uncle, although you don’t have to be a seasoned horror fan to see the twist coming from a mile off. As for the Dahl twins, although they occasionally do that overused spinny-head thing from The Grudge and spend a lot of time staring at Jordan from underneath their fringe in a Ringu kind of way, their design and demeanour reminded us a lot of the dead girl from Stir of Echoes, which isn’t a bad comparison to evoke. In fact, A Haunting at Silver Falls could easily be described as a sugar-free version of Stir of EchoesI, which is one of the reasons we liked it.
Having said all that, Brett Donowho’s direction is flat and tensionless, and although the screenplay has some nice touches – check out the haunted school bus – it can’t avoid most of the usual clichés, including a horrendous moment towards the end of the film that literally made us groan. Don’t think about the film after you’ve seen it; all the unanswered questions will make your head ache.
A Haunting at Silver Falls could have been a lot better, but as teen ghost stories go we’ve all seen much worse.
Special Features: None
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