Director: Alastair Orr
Cast: Sharni Vinson, Carlyn Burchell, Steven Ward, Zino Ventura, Gustav Gerderner
Age Restriction: 16 H V
Runtime: 97 minutes
Release Date: 03 November 2017
A South African horror film is something you don't see quite often on the local circuit. Is it because the niche genre is not a benefit to our ever-growing film industry?
Directed South African filmmaker Alastair Orr, From a House on Willow Street follows a group of thieves who abduct a young girl named Katherine (Carlyn Burchell). Why? Because the teenage girl has something they want: Wealthy parents who would pay handsomely for their daughter's safe return.
However; in a surprising turn of events, Katherine flips the tables on her captors with a secret that will have audiences feeling sorry for the crooked thieves instead.
On paper, Orr has conjured up a concept with heaps of potential – even though it bears a similar resemblance to the 2016 horror hit, Don't Breathe.
Does Orr take his potential concept and strip it for all its worth? Like a horror villain toys with their victims before coming in for the kill, From a House on Willow Street toys with its audience but unfortunately squanders that opportunity into something of a snooze fest.
Disguise your film with an American setting and characters, whilst playing it safe with a been-there-done-that narrative and you dissipate its unique selling point.
It's not that clichéd narratives are relatively bad – believe me, there are many horror flicks that make it work – but in the case of From a House on Willow Street, it's a matter of ideas being poorly translated from page to screen and concepts not delivering on their promise. The film's first few minutes is a clear example of bright ideas and promising characters; however, nothing ever materialises as the plot moves on, resulting in an unbearable horror film that will ironically scare audiences away from the cinema.
If the film had a South African setting we may have been looking at something rather special, as a horror film with a local flavour is a rare commodity in our film industry these days.
The only thing scary about this film is the over-the-top gore, convincing make-up, and Burchell's terrific performance. Other than that, the 'loud sound effect' scare tactic falls flat and feels relatively outdated.
Speaking of the acting, From a House on Willow Street features an entirely South African cast apart from the two female leads: Step Up 3's Sharni Vinson and the above-mentioned Burchell.
Besides Burchell, Vinson also delivers a worthy performance while the local cast cannot in anyway top the bar set by the two leads.
Verdict: Dull and uninspired; nothing about From a House on Willow Street works except its over-the-top gore, excellent make-up and actress Carlyn Burchell's terrifying performance.