Restoration (2016)

Home sweet hell

Writers: James Cullen Bressack, Zack Ward
Director: Zack Ward

Restoration (aka ‘The Haunted’) is a film that ends up a long way from where it starts.

The opening credit sequence is a superbly creepy haunted house sequence. It’s extremely evocative and exactly the sort of thing I like in a ghost film.

The first main scene introduces us to one of the main characters, Rebecca (Emily O’Brien). She’s a doctor at a hospital and is working to save the life of a man with some very serious injuries. It looks like he’s trying to say something. It’s another superbly crafted scene with lots of tension and questions: we want to know who the man is, how he got like this and what he might want to say.

The problem is, the man has nothing to do with the story! The scene is just there to introduce Rebecca and her caring nature. I felt cheated.

The main story involved Rebecca and her husband Todd (Adrian Gaeta) who have moved into a new house which they are renovating. Whilst doing so they find an old, battered teddy bear hidden in the walls. And hidden in the bear is a young girl’s secret diary…

Things go very slowly for a while and there is rather too much emphasis on Rebecca and Todd’s domestic arrangements. However there is still a very nice underlying atmosphere are creepiness, well supported by the music from Alex Csillag.

Then the ghost appears and all pretence of subtlety goes out of the window. This is not a shadowy figure, this is a full on apparition that can hurt people.

OK, that’s fine. I can live with that. But all the way along something had been niggling me. There were a few loose ends that suggested Something Else was going on. I had some ideas but I wasn’t sure exactly what it was.

That changes when our main characters visit an elderly woman in hospital. With one line from her the story falls into place and I think I uttered an audible groan. Yes, it’s a surprise – but not a nice one. Still, the new direction could have worked if it had been handled well. Unfortunately at this point it feels as if a completely different writer and director took over. The whole thing reminded me of an old Hammer horror movie, and not in a good way.

So what starts as a subtle, atmospheric ghost story slowly deteriorates into something rather silly.