Directed by Mary Lambert [Other horror films: Pet Sematary (1989), Pet Sematary II (1992), Strange Frequency (2001), Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005), Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (2011)]
This is a rather cheap-looking film, which is obvious from the camerawork, some of the performances, and even the music. Still, if you’re looking for a somewhat interesting and psychological movie, this might be it.
First thing I noticed when I started this up was the main character’s played by Elisabeth Moss (who is known for a variety of things, but I know best as Zoey Bartlet, the youngest daughter of the president in The West Wing). When I first saw this film years back, I hadn’t really seen many West Wing episodes, so watching it now, knowing Moss, it was a funner experience. She doesn’t do too bad, either, and really pulls off the “is this real or am I going insane” type scenario.
Unfortunately, she’s probably the best-cast in the film. Tom Malloy, did pretty well as an autistic brother, but Catherine Mary Stewart (of Night of the Comet and Nightflyers fame) and John Savage (he’s been in a ton of things, but nothing I’ve really seen) sort of sucked as their parents. Their performance just didn’t jibe with me. Jason Lewis and Thomas Jay Ryan also didn’t really do anything for me in their respective roles, though admittedly, Lewis did come across as charming on occasion.
Because it’s a straight-to-video movie, there’s not much in the way of special effects. Most of the time, it’s just a figure quickly walking by the door-frame, or in the mirror, that leads to most jump scares. There was a single throat-slitting that wasn’t shabby, but aside from that, little to no gore is to be found here.
The draw here is the story, and whether or not what’s happening is the result of some supernatural incident or a conspiracy to drive a young woman insane. Or a cult. Or a twin sister separated at birth who wants revenge. Really, this movie played with a lot of options, and I’m perfectly fine with the more downbeat direction the conclusion took.
If there are any downsides that need to be discussed, it’d come from a few directions. Firstly, I get that this family is moderately dysfunctional, but the constant drama got a bit tiring as the movie dragged on, which wasn’t made easier by the fact both parents were pretty unlikable. There was also a very stagy feel to this movie – at times, I felt like I was watching Guiding Light all over again, or another one of those soap operas of the bygone era. It’s nothing that too negatively impacted the film, but it was noticeable. Lastly, I wanted fewer jump scares and more wholesome horror, but until the end, we never really got that.
The Attic is a cheap movie, straight-to-video, and it definitely shows. That said, at times, this film can be pretty suspenseful, and I do think the story is intriguing enough to pull in most audiences. There’s little here that’s fully original, but especially if you’re familiar with Moss, this might well be worth looking into. As for myself, I definitely enjoyed it more this time around as opposed to when I first saw it.