11th Apr2015

‘A Haunting at Silver Falls’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Alix Elizabeth Gitter, Erick Avari, Steve Bacic, James C. Burns, James Cavlo, Tadhg Kelly, James Ralph, Tara Westwood, Jade Ramsey, Nikita Ramsey | Written by Cam Cannon, Rachel Long, Brian Pittman | Directed by Brett Donowho

silver-falls-twins

Recently orphaned teen Jordan is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in the small town of Silver Falls. Clashing with her newfound guardians, Jordan develops a burgeoning friendship with a curious classmate that leads to a shocking discovery; according to local legend, two young twins who were killed by their father have cast a dark spell over Silver Falls. When Jordan finds a mysterious ring, the murdered girls’ restless spirits begin to shadow her every move. Meanwhile, Jordan’s concerned aunt and uncle refer her to a therapist who sees medication and hospitalization as the only solution to her problems. As the frightened teen fights to prove her sanity, a killer draws near. Can Jordan free the twins spirits or will she be the next spirit haunting the small town of Silver Falls?

On paper A Haunting at Silver Falls sounded like a great movie, then I realised it comes from actor/director Brett Donowho. The man responsible for 2013′s No Tell Motel, another “haunting” horror tale which was burdened by a terrible script, flat direction and a total lack of atmosphere. All of which did not bode well for this film! To add to insult to injury, A Haunting at Silver Falls sat on the shelf for two years before making a straight-to-DVD debut here in the UK.

However I was pleasantly surprised…

Whereas Donowho’s previous film seemingly aimed to be a Ten Little Indians style horror thriller, failing at both being horrific and thrilling, A Haunting at Silver Falls is, like The Haunting of Molly Hartley and the remake of When a Stranger Calls, aimed squarely at the teen market; and in particular teen girls. The type who like to read Goosebumps and R.L. Stine’s books, don’t mind their vampires sparkly, but have grown up enough to want to see something a little more “scary” a la Hollywood’s The Ring remake.

A Haunting at Silver Falls actually reminded me a lot of the scary TV movies that aired on US television in the 70s and have since gained cult status – think Satan’s School for Girls, The Spell, The Initiation of Sarah et al. It helps that this time round director Brett Donowho has a much more convincing cast, especially Alix Elizabeth Gitter as Jordan, who manages to almost-perfectly walk the fine line between mourning child, terrified teen and big city girl frustrated living in a small town. That Gitter shares a number of scenes with actor Erick Avari, who stars as Jordan’s shrink and the father of her prospective suitor, only helps her performance: the two play fabulously off each other no matter how brief the scene. Given that my favourite performance of Avari’s is as Cecil in Adam Sandler’s Mr. Deeds, it fantastic to see him bring some real acting kudos to a small production such as this.

But the real success of A Haunting at Silver Falls? The fact that this mystery actually keeps you guessing up until its big reveal. I not ashamed to admit that I had my suspicions as to who, or what, was the killer but I was fooled – to a point. The red herrings are very well placed and there’s enough twists and turns to keep you interested way beyond the central “long-haired ghost haunts girl” conceit and to overlook a number of tiny niggles in the films plotting and execution.

A surprising teen horror that hooked in even a jaded horror fan like me, A Haunting at Silver Falls is out now on DVD from 101 Films.

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