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THE ATTIC
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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Mary Lambert

Starring:
Elisabeth Moss
Jason Lewis
John Savage
Catherine Stewart

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about

Meet Emma (Elisabeth Moss). Emma doesn't like her family's new house. Emma's family doesn't like their new house. One day Emma goes into the attic. Emma is attacked by someone who looks like her. Emma wants answers. Emma has given me a reason to start heavy drinking.

Is it good movie?

Oh man. I'm sure Mary Lambert didn't expect her newest horror flick to end up like this. I mean, she did direct both PET SEMATARY and PET SEMATARY II, even if that was over ten years ago (damn, I'm old). But what's Lambert done since then? Well, documentaries, indie films and some retrospective DVDs from her career as a music video director. Oh yeah, a made-for-TV sequel to HALLOWEENTOWN, and URBAN LEGENDS 3. Sounds promising, doesn't it?

The story for the film sounds sort of promising, even though it sounds overdone. Emma and her family move into a new house, to which Emma has a strong aversion to. After moving in, she becomes miserable and reclusive. The rest of her family also seems unhappy and unsettled. The situation escalates one day when Emma is in the attic alone and is attacked by someone who looks identical to her. Emma is convinced that she's being haunted (her family thinks otherwise), and after doing some research (with the help of a detective named John Trevor), finds out she had a twin sister named Beth, who died twelve days after Emma was born. It turns out her parents (who are closet cultists) had a hand in Beth's death, and are planning a similar fate for Emma. Or is it all really because Emma is off her rocker? Sound iffy? That's only the start.

One of the problems with the story is that there are some rather obvious lapses in logic that are blatantly insulting to a person of normal intelligence. Why does Emma, who doesn't like being in the house and is convinced of it being haunted, refuse to leave? Why does Beth, who died when she was only twelve days old, appear to have aged to about the same age as Emma? If Beth is dead, then why at a certain point in the film does she bleed when she's shot? Couple this with a lame attempt to take a cue from Roman Polanski's REPULSION (namely have almost the entire movie in the house) with little to no suspense, and an incoherent ending that betrays the audience even more than the illogical plot, and you have THE ATTIC.

It also doesn't help that almost none of the characters in the film can be sympathized with. Moss' character comes close, but considering that all we're presented with is a malingering individual (and no knowledge of what she was like prior to the move), it's a chore, especially when she descends into hysterics. The character of Detective John Trevor (Jason Lewis) is an annoying James Dean wannabe, and Emma's parents (John Savage and Catherine Stewart) are presented with little to no enthusiasm. Tom Malloy (who also wrote the script) as Emma's mentally challenged brother Frankie is interesting, but nothing is done with his character (I guess he knew what the others involved didn't).

I don't want to sound like I'm ragging on Lambert for this, as I'm sure that she had other ideas. And I did enjoy her efforts in PET SEMATARY and it's sequel. The problem here is when the source material and budget restrict you, you can really only do so much. Having a cast that isn't into the film at all doesn't help matters, either. Time to clean out this attic!

Video / Audio

Video: Presented in an anamorphic 1.66:1 aspect ratio, the film feels even cheaper due to the choice of filming in Digital Video. Average all-around, there's nothing bad to say about the transfer, but nothing good, either.

Audio: The single audio track, a Dolby Digital 2.0, doesn't offer much in terms of range, but considering that the majority of the film is talking within a confined space, it's acceptable. Just don't expect any cool ambient or directional effects.

The Extras

Surprise, surprise! How bad is it when the screener version that I got had NATHING on it? Well, not too bad, since the retail DVD has trailers for films like THE OTHER SIDE, THE UNKNOWN TRILOGY, HACK!, and NIGHT JUNKIES, as well as the film's own trailer.

Last Call

THE ATTIC can be likened to a burning car wreck that someone tried to put out by throwing Jenkum on it (look it up). That someone was Mary Lambert. Instead of making the best of things, things ended up stinking anyways. It's a real shame that she was involved with this film, since it makes it that much more upsetting to know she can do better. A lot better. Rent it out of pity if you must, but do it while having a Mystery Science Theater 3000 night with your drunken buddies. Maybe then the film will be enjoyable instead of an aggravating waste of time.

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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