Moving into a new home, even if it’s considered to be temporary, is kind of disquieting at times since, unless it’s a brand new home that no one has lived in, one tends to think about who inhabited the place first and what might have happened in their new home. Some people don’t give this a second thought, but when Tom and Alice move into a home that was built by a famed architect and madman, things don’t appear to be nearly as happy as some might feel they need to be.
Tom, who is an architect that is attempting to finish a project, has obvious issues with his wife, who is a doctor and is hard to like initially since her attitude toward Tom appears to be kind of hostile whenever he says one wrong thing. Of course, Tom still needs to understand her position, her concerns, and her beliefs, which makes this a marriage that’s not entirely sound but is still strong enough to endure if the two communicate. When a dark spirit begins to pester Tom at home, though, it becomes kind of easy to see that the future doesn’t hold anything positive.
Stephen Lang is great at playing a villain.
Something about Lang just screams villain at times, even if he’s been able to switch it off and become someone else when it’s needed. His status as a villain, though, is tough to argue with since, in real life, he looks like the type of guy who could be someone’s kind but gruff grandfather, but in the movies, he looks like evil poured into a solid form.
In this particular movie, he plays the character of Frederick Banner, an architect that simply looks dangerous since the light in his eyes doesn’t really match the energy in his smile. If anything, he looks like a demon in human form that’s been allowed to roam the human world for a while and has become rather skilled at convincing people to move into the neighborhood he helped to build. The manic energy behind his smile though is the type that would no doubt creep out a lot of people in the real world.
The house is a confusing element of the story for much of the movie.
It’s not hard to grasp the meaning behind the house and what it was built for, but the idea that it’s that important is still kind of muted for a while until it becomes pertinent later on. For much of the movie, the focus is on Tom and what he finds out about Banner, on the dynamic between Tom and Alice, and then on Tom and Marie, the ghost of the woman whose husband was killed by Frederick years before.
It turns out that Frederick and Marie had a son, Eldridge Banner, and the thing is, he’s still alive. As the movie pushes forward, the audience gets to see how Marie begins to cast a spell of sorts on Tom as she gets him to dig up remains of Banner’s victims, who have been added to over the years by Eldridge as he’s taken on the work of his father, killing people to add to the remains that are buried in the backyard. As Tom begins to figure out that something is going on with the house and that Banner is far creepier than many people think, he eventually finds out about Eldridge.
It’s tough to sympathize with Tom even after he’s been targeted.
For some reason, it’s tough to identify Tom as a character to sympathize with right away since he and Alice and their back-and-forth banter is enough to make one think that Tom isn’t exactly a saint, but neither is Alice. The two of them have issues, that much is clear, but Tom, who has obviously been stepping out on his wife thanks to his conversation with his assistant, is possibly the worst of the two.
When his life turns upside down, and he’s killed by Eldridge though, it becomes easier to sympathize with him as he attempts to keep Eldridge from harming his wife. By the end of the story, it’s revealed that Tom is stuck in the house with Marie, as they were killed within the space and can’t leave. But the upside is that Banner has been dealt with, and Alice is free to go where she may.
The movie doesn’t really have a happy ending.
Some ghost stories end on a happy note, while others don’t. The difference between one story and another tends to be the manner in which the resolution is reached. This story is kind of interesting, given that it’s a story about the occult and the desires of a man that can be rightfully called both disturbed and entirely backward in his thinking. That’s just how good of an actor Stephen Lang really is.
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