A Haunting in Cawdor
The presence of a good hook can be the saving grace that elevates an entire film and the absence of one can damn it to the bargain bins of utter irrelevance. Even with questionable acting, a tatty script and a paltry budget, a decent hook is enough to justify the existence of even the most obnoxiously executed horror. A Haunting in Cawdor’s lack of hook shines a withering spotlight on the rest of the film’s copious absences.
Vivian (Shelby Young) is a troubled 20-something serving out a jail sentence for a murder that is implied to be totally justified. A work-release program places her, as well as an assortment of other passionless and vapid young offenders, at an isolated theatre-camp under the care of a failed Broadway actor and his trained ex-con. Their purpose is to stage Shakespeare’s Macbeth, however the play’s relationship with the occult as well as the history of its previous performance at the theatre reveal a malevolent entity stalking the camp grounds.
The film fails to make the most of its bad writing and hammy acting due to its lack of self-awareness or commitment to satire. It is genuinely difficult to imagine any of the writers having recently witnessed a prolonged conversation between a group of young people as this unfortunate group of unknowns regurgitate poorly constructed threats, failed witticisms and hackneyed “trendy” dialogue all over one another. It would be fine if there was some kind of payoff like watching their brutal murders, but the film actually shies away from gratuitous, slasher-style violence. This is confusing, considering the plot and overall concept is straight out of the Friday the 13th playbook.
A Haunting in Cawdor bills itself as a psychological horror which effectively means it is dependent on expert editing, sound design and well-developed characters to convey terror. The problem is that the film keeps the wooden characters, poor script and cliched premise of a schlock horror film whilst eschewing all the things that make this nonsense bearable. A Haunting in Cawdor tries at two things and fails at both, proving as frustrating for its inelegance as for it indecisiveness.
A Haunting at Cawdor is released nationwide on 9th October 2015.
Watch the trailer for A Haunting at Cawdor here: