Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
Spain/Canada, 2013. Universal Pictures, De Milo, Toma 78. Story by Andy Muschietti, Barbara Muschietti, Screenplay by Neil Cross, Andy Muschietti, Barbara Muschietti. Cinematography by Antonio Riestra. Produced by J. Miles Dale, Barbara Muschietti. Music by Fernando Velazquez. Production Design by Anastasia Masaro. Costume Design by Luis Sequeira. Film Editing by Michele Conroy.
With the financial crisis in full-swing, a successful investment banker (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) goes the route of all disappointed financiers by killing his wife and taking his children on the road where he plans to do away with them too. Finding himself at a secluded cabin in the woods, he is prevented from doing the final deed on his kids when he is whisked away by a motherly spirit who then raises his children for the next few years. We skip ahead some time and catch up with the deceased businessman’s twin brother (also played by Coster-Waldau), who has never given up the search for his missing family members and eventually hits gold when the children are found in the cabin (herein lies a major plot hole: while I believe that children can go missing for three years, a luxury car unable to be traced is impossible to swallow). The children are found in execrably feral condition, so he holes up in a secluded suburban home with his patient rocker girlfriend (Jessica Chastain) who eventually takes over care duties when her boyfriend is undone in a freak accident. Or was it? The bumps in the night suggest that whoever it was that was taking care of these lasses has followed them to their new home, and although determined not to let the girls come to any harm, this unearthly caregiver isn’t quite as forgiving to anyone else who might get in her way. Good acting and a few fine moments of chills don’t quite compensate for an otherwise derivative, by-the-numbers plot that builds to a disappointing conclusion. The eventual villain is not a terrifying enough force to be vanquished, nor does the film go in the realm of sympathy like the far better The Orphanage did. Director Andres Muschietti expanded the screenplay from his two minute short, which is easily available to see online.