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THEY CAME FROM THE ATTIC
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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Jason Mills

Starring:
Robert Duncan
Marina Seretis
Nicola Elbro
Leon Bourikos

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
After the tragic death of their son Todd, Richard and Susan Hooper with their teenage daughter Jen and other son Ben move to a picturesque farmhouse in Montana. Jen blames herself for the accident that took Todd's life, and has become overly protective of Ben, who has stopped speaking since his brother died. As such, when weird shite starts happening in the house involving Ben, Jen's stories of what happened are met with skepticism by her parents. Jen isn't dicking around, as the Hooper family aren't the only ones living in the house.

Is it good movie?
With a title like THEY CAME FROM THE ATTIC, it doesn't take much thinking to know what you're getting: hopefully, some fun B-movie stuff that you'd be glad to get drunk to. But, when you pair that with the knowledge that this is a Canadian production filmed in Delta, British Columbia, and director Jason Mills was also the writer, producer and an actor in the film, it's a whole new idea of something 'special'. I'll leave that up to you to interpret.

The highlight of the film for me were the creature effects. Being the low-budget affair, you couldn't go all-out with the CG and such, and thankfully the film doesn't do this, relegating the creatures to the shadows for the most part. Really, it's annoying when a film comes along and gives you that one good long look at the monster, since it takes away the mystery and the fright factor in a lot of cases. The effects that are used, while sparse, compliment what's on the screen rather than being front and centre. Unfortunately, that's really the only positive that I can say about the film, in all honesty. Believe me, I tried, since this film really wants you to hate it.

Correction, Jason Mills must want you to hate this film. How else could you explain the fact that no one in the film is likeable? The family you're supposed to feel sorry for can't even garner sympathy from the Pope. Richard is a complete putz, while Jen is mouthy and largely unsympathetic. About the only characters you give a damn about are Susan and Ben, but even that's being generous. Then there are the neighbours. Really, I know they're supposed to be creepy and unsettling, but when they're written to be so completely bizarre and off-the-wall it really is a slap in the face. Okay, we get it, the whole family's weird. There's no need for the adult son to be acting like an autistic manchild and the also-adult daughter to be carrying around a doll! Throw in the dad who sounds like George Carlin's Mr. Conductor and an Asian wife who's at least 30 years younger than him, it's embarrassing.

The only thing that pissed me off more than the writing was the acting. In typical Canadian fashion, the acting is largely horrible. Robert Duncan comes off as being totally clueless and wooden in his performance. Marina Seretis was largely okay, but man, there's some genuinely awful ADR work here. It's like she was dubbing a foreign film and totally could care less about the mouth movements. Nicola Elbro tries to emulate the 'tough teenager' facade, but it still came off as being fake and annoying. Leon Bourikos was really the only one who didn't make me want to tear my hair out, but he hardly had any lines. That, and Krista Fowler who plays the Pizza Girl. I've never laughed at such a bad attempt at acting like you broke your bike chain before.

Once the door was shut on this film, I really was disappointed in what I'd seen. What could've been a great monster movie turned into bad acting with characters you could give two sh*ts about, but wouldn't get offed in the nastiest way. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for Canadian-based productions (Bob Clark and David Cronenberg, anyone?), but when you purposely sabotage your film with this type of writing and with this type of acting, it's downright infuriating. Nail this attic shut and move into an apartment.

Video / Audio
Video: Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, things look okay for an indie Canadian film. There's a consistent level of film grain throughout that's quite noticeable, particularly in the darker scenes. Colours are mostly consistent with good detail, although blacks eat up any detail and definition.

Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track is adequate for the film, although don't expect much in terms of movement. Dialogue is clear and without distortion, with the loud bumps from the effects and music stings coming in the appropriate spots.

The Extras
First up is an audio commentary with director Jason Mills and line producer Garnet Campbell. The duo spend most of the time making a few comments here and there with a fair amount of dead space, with no real in-depth stuff on the project. A word of advice: get proper mics when you're doing your commentary. The kind that cancel out the noise of shuffling feet, breathing and lip-smacking, since that's what you get with this commentary. Next!

In The Attic clocks in at just over 12 minutes, and is largely EPK fluff with a liberal amount of rock band Retrograde's "This Frequency We Share" bookending things. There are a few interesting tidbits, such as the behind-the-scenes shots and makeup application, but other than that, nothing really in-depth.

Behind The Scenes really should've been stuck with the first featurette, since it's all behind the scenes production footage with the same Retrograde song playing over it for 4 minutes.

Cast and Crew Slideshow is a collection of stills taken on the set. Again, the same song is played over the slideshow, this time the whole thing clocking in at 15 minutes. Jeez, gotta get that use out of that license, eh guys?

Next is Jennifer - A Short Film. This five-minute short by Jason Mills is about a girl possessed, then isn't. Largely uninteresting, but gives you a glimpse at the things to come.

Finally, there's the film's trailer, which is actually better than the film itself, save for the annoying voiceover trying to be creepy.

Last Call
Another case of a missed opportunity, THEY CAME FROM THE ATTIC is a chore to sit through until something happens. By then, the film's practically over. Cool-looking creature makeup aside, this could've been so much more. The DVD might as well be a promo piece for the band Retrograde, given the amount of times their song is used.
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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