(director: Chris Siverston; screenwriter: Carol Chrest; cinematographer: Senda Bonnet; editor: Anjoum Agrama; music: Tim Rituli; cast: Santino Barnard (Cody), Christina Ricci (Laura), Don Baldaramos (Mr. Langtree), Colleen Camp (Mrs. Langtree), Lew Temple (Mr. Alonzo), Carol Anne Watts (Jane), Matt Novell (Scott), Nick Villelonga (Legionnaire); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers; Robert Yocum, Sasha Yelaun, B.I. Rosen, Johnny Remo: A Screen Media Release; 2022)

The premise is fine but the film becomes monstrous when its execution is botched.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An unconventional horror thriller covering modern issues that are told as retro (its heavy-handed, and styles itself after 1950s’ B film horrors). The supernatural horror film tells of such issues as domestic abuse, mental health issues, loneliness, alcoholism and how tedious is office work. It’s directed without distinction by Chris Siverston (“I Know Who Killed Me”), a follow-up to his horror pic bomb in 2007, and is written by Carol Chrest as an attempt at provocative psychological drama.

Laura (Christina Ricci) relocates with her 7-year-old son Cody (Santino Barnard) to live in a remote part of California, in a rented spacious cottage, as she moves far away from her abusive ex-husband (Matt Novell). Their new living quarters delights them because it has a view of the beautiful pond, but their landlady, Mrs. Langtree (Colleen Camp), is a pain. Somehow the ex gets their phone number and harasses them with repeated phone calls. Also the kid gets unduly obsessed with the pond, which he claims has a monster in it that visits him at night.

Not over her horrible domestic experiences, the fragile single parent tries to find a way of surviving as a typist office worker while the testy child, with mood swings, wants to go back home where he feels most comfortable. As things are nor working out in her plan to escape her fate, she gets more and more stressed.

The premise is fine but the film becomes monstrous when its execution is botched, its dialogue seems overblown, the acting is poor, it telegraphs its moves leaving no suspense and reaches a point where the drama becomes as trite as those lesser films you find on cable stations like the Hallmark channel. I found it an irritating watch.

It premiered in the FrightFest strand of the Glasgow Film Festival.

REVIEWED ON 5/11/2022  GRADE: C-