Atmospheric supernatural thriller that suffers from a weak s
z hayes | TX | 09/15/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a great fan of atmospheric horror movies, especially supernatural thrillers and was quite excited when I came across this movie. Well, after watching it, my verdict is that it's certainly atmospheric, and has credible actors in the cast, especially Emma Campbell and Patricia Clarkson, but the script is underwhelming, and the plot pacing is a bit too slow.
The story is set in the 1960s in New England. Alice Fasulo [Emma Campbell] is a teenage girl who is also prone to starting fires, and is thus banished by her irate mother and a reluctant father [Bruce Campbell] to a boarding school in a remote part of New England, surrounded by woods, and run by a sinister headmistress, Ms Traverse [Patricia Clarkson]. Alice is given a placement test and is deemed special and worthy of a scholarship. The feisty teen rebels at being abandoned by her parents, and chafes at boarding school life, having to deal with a peer who calls her 'firecrotch' [Kathleen Mackey], but does make a good friend, Marcy Turner [Lauren Birkell]. Alice senses that all is not well at the school though, especially when she experiences strange and vivid dreams and hears strange voices, and eventually comes to believe that Ms Traverse and her female faculty may be up to no good. When girls start disappearing at night with only a pile of leaves in their beds the next morning, Alice begins to fear that she may be the next chosen victim.
As I said, both Emma Campbell and Patricia Clarkson portray their roles credibly. It is easy to empathize with Emma despite her rebellious manner, and Clarkson plays her role to sinister perfection. There is a palpable sense of menace surrounding the school and the nearby woods, not to mention the female teachers. Unfortunately, the script is underwhelming, and not very well-written. The dialogue almost comes across as trite, and uninspired, and the pacing is quite plodding for the first half, with the action only picking up in the latter part of the film. On the whole, this is worth a watch, especially for fans of atmospheric/supernatural horror."