Ghost stories with haunted houses have similar trends. The family buys a seemingly idyllic house out in the country, weird things will start to happen, the neighbours give out cryptic warnings, one of the kids usually sees something and the parents don’t react until everyone is trapped and horror ensues. Add some teenagers trying to have sex at any point in time. Any subversion from this formula is welcomed.
The Witch in the Window subverts the story in more ways than one. Director Andy Mitton gives us a believable depiction of divorced father Simon (Alex Draper) and his son Finn (Charlie Tacker). Instead of going for stereotypes, we get some honest character development as we establish the dynamic of the relationship between father and son. You actually care for them.
Simon is trying to restore an old country house. He’s also trying to have some quality time with his son. Finn is hesitant, but not completely alien to bonding. He is still a regular kid that loves his father. That also means that we’re not getting any of those classic scenes where the kid is oblivious to the danger while ignoring the parent or the parent dismisses the kid’s warning because of not wanting to listen.
When strange things start happening, both Simon and Finn become instantly aware. It’s because of this reason that this horror film is almost incidental. You’re hoping that this wouldn’t have to be horror here. You actually care for both characters. When something happens to either Simon or Finn, we are invested in their safety. On the other side, with the emphasis on character development, this feels more like a drama where horror has creeped in. Also, keep your eyes open. You might notice some things on the sidelines.
Highly recommended with reservations. Rather than pure horror, this film explores the relationship between a father and a son after a divorce. In that sense, it is more a character driven story of Simon and Finn rather than a horror story in that sense. Fans looking for a pure horror story will find themselves with a lot more drama than usual. That being said, don’t get too comfortable. This is a ghost story to the core.
That will do for now.