DreadWorld Review: Restoration (2016)

Full confession time: I fucking hate haunted house movies. They play on the worst conceit of all time, namely, if the house is haunted and your lives are threaded - YOU LEAVE THE FUCKING HOUSE! Every haunted house film tries to invent some ultimately ridiculous reason why the occupants cant leave. "The spirit will follow us"..."the whole world is in danger"..."we only have 4 mortgage payments left to make." Bullshit...bullshit...as a home owner, maybe  (paying off a mortgage may the greatest accomplishment a human being can attain). Restoration from writer James Cullen Brassack and director/actor Zack Ward masquerades as a shitty haunted house flick for it's first two acts, then is spins on it's heels and becomes something completely different. Is it enough to save the film, or is Restoration another tepid attempt to cull a few jump scares out of tired tropes. Let's take a look.

Rebecca (Emily O'Brien) and Todd (Adrian Geata) have just purchased their dream house. They have big plans to renovate, or rather restore, the old house to it's former glory. Luckily, Todd is pretty handy with a hammer and nails. Unluckily, they have hit the trifecta of stress. Moving - check. New job - Check. Pregnancy - check. So when they start to experience some rather disturbing out of body experiences it's easy to jump to conclusions that their lives are just fucking with their minds. Add in two rather intrusive neighbors and after a while it becomes painfully obvious that these visions are more than just stress induced nightmares.

Restoration is the feature film directorial debut for veteran actor Zach Ward. You may remember Ward going all the way back to the bully in A Christmas Story, or from his roles in Transformers or Friday the 13th (2009). I will always have a warm place in my heart for Ward from his time as Christopher Titus'younger brother on the criminally underrated "Titus." Warm spot in my heart or not, Ward acquits himself very well as a director in this film. It's easy in these low budget horror films, and make no mistake about it, Restoration is a low budget horror film, it's easy to mail it in and simply look to turn in a product. However, Ward makes the most out of what he's given. The problem is that he's not given that much.

The main fault with Restoration falls at the feet of the script from veteran writer/director James Cullen Brassack. The issues with Restoration actually echo the same issues that Bressack had with his previous feature, Pernicious (Review HERE). It begins slow, which is fine. The first act is all about laying groundwork getting to know characters. All is good but Restoration, like Pernicious really starts to meander in it's second act. The film falls back on some familiar jump scares to spice up its sludge-like pace, but doesn't really hit any semblance of a stride until it's third act, While the twist is pretty damn cool (no spoilers) there just isn't enough in the first hour of the film to get a full buy in.

As the most experienced member of the cast, Ward is the highlight, again relay coming to life in the third act. O'Brien, who also co-stared in Pernicious, and Geata are fine as our young couple in peril. But you don't watch horror films for the Shakespearean level performances, so the acting in Restoration is fine.

Restoration, the haunted house film, is a maddening exercise in patience. What it becomes in the third act is definitely a lot more interesting than anything that proceeds it. Is it worth it? That's for you to decide. Ward's direction is very good, at times even superb. It's the script that crushes the promise that Restoration holds. Although the film does give you a really good excuse for not doing those annoying home improvement projects your wife is all over you about, or spending time with any of your neighbors. Check out Restoration if you are interested in seeing the birth of very talented actor turned director and a pretty intense third act.

** 1/2 stars out of *****

That's it for me. As always, thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich."

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