From a House on Willow Street
Sharni Vinson, Carlyn Burchell, Zino Ventura
From a House on Willow Street is a sharp, succinct dip into horror.
When a group of professional criminals, including Sharni Vinson as team leader Hazel, decide to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy couple, they get a lot more on their plate than the big ransom they were expecting. Their victim, Katherine (Carlyn Burchell), for a start doesn’t seem too concerned about her predicament.
At face value, From a House on Willow Street is a title that evokes memories of exploitation flicks of the ’70s and ’80s, such as Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left. And whilst director Alastair Orr’s (Indigenous, The Unforgiving) latest film isn’t as exploitative as you might think, it still has enough going for it to send a few chills up the spine.
Sydney-sider Vinson stands out against the bloodshed and shadows, following up on her promise in You’re Next; she’s aiming for much more than just being your standard Scream Queen. Breaking free of the Final Girl trope by being at least proactive in her own story, Hazel is one of the film’s greater strengths. Elsewhere, the film’s building tension is only ever let down by digital effects that offset the practical ones, and an overreliance on jump scares.
Blending horror and home invasion, From a House on Willow Street shares a lot in common with Ryuhei Kitamura’s No One Lives which saw another bunch of kidnappers bite off more than they can chew. There’s also elements of Event Horizon too, as Hazel and her team are haunted by spirits of people they’ve previously wronged. And whilst that might sound like a lot of cherry-picking, Orr manages to serve it up in a way that doesn’t feel like you’re being offered leftovers. To top it all off, From A House on Willow Street makes the best of its running time to ensure it’s a sharp, succinct dip into horror.