A very pregnant Ellie (Emma Draper – This Town, Daffodils) arrives at her grandparents’, who have recently passed away, home to organize things so the property can be sold. She is surprised to find her mother Ivy (Julia Ormond – Legends of the Fall, My Week With Marilyn) with her invalid father Jack (John Bach – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Georgia) there. Things are obviously tense between mother and daughter as they have been estranged. Though Ivy promises Ellie she will stay out of her way, just help with the packing of things and just wants to be in her daughter’s life now that the baby is coming.
The two settle into a kind of rhythm with Ivy really trying to repair their relationship. Ellie has left her fiance and is feeling alone and vulnerable, so she accepts her mother’s help.
What begins as a reunion between mother and daughter slowly turns into something a lot more tense and terror filled.
Filmed in New Zealand by director/screenwriter Jake Mahaffy (Free in Deed, Wellness), the film oozes tone and tension. While the script is an interesting one he has amplified its effect by surrounding it with creepy visuals and some cool special effects. Just the right amount, though. Never so much that they take over from the acting and story. Result is tension so thick you need a knife to cut it.
Julia Ormond has certainly had an interesting career. The British actress started off as an “It” girl with romantic turns in films like Legends of the Fall, First Knight and a remake of the Audrey Hepburn vehicle Sabrina. Then she kind of disappeared. Maybe not interested in just being cast as the pretty girl, she has continued her career doing indie films and interesting turns in television shows like Nurse Jackie and CSI:NY. Here she plays a rather odd, domineering and, in the end, creepy mother.
This psychological thriller is set up so it is all about perception. How you see things and understand other’s actions. This is where all the creepiness comes from. That and the fact that it happens in a old, large house which seems continuously cloaked in darkness. As the film goes on you keep questioning things. Change opinions about what you believed about characters and situations. Not sure you are getting the right drift about what has happened. Twists and turns ensue.