Ginger Nuts of Horror
If there is one thing that Britain does well, it has to be the low key, thoughtful and emotionally packed horror film. Films not borne from a massive Hollywood budget, but ones born from a passion a need to make films. Curse of The Witching Tree is one of those films.
When Amber, moves her young family into a farmhouse that may or may not have been the site of the murder of an innocent woman wrongly accused of killing her child, and who also cursed a tree so that all who play around it are cursed, things are not looking too good. Her family is already a breaking point. Relationships are strained, tempers are frayed and emotions run deep. Her husband and the father to the children is in hospital in a coma.
Her son, Jake also has to deal with the fact that he is being bullied at school, and when he is forced into playing with a Ouija board, you just know this film is not going to have a happy ever after feel to it.
Jake has made a connection through the Ouija board, one that has unleashed the spirits and the curse. Initially only Jake can see the shadowy ghosts that run through their house, but when they all start to see things and the sisters call in the help of a local medium, things really start to get scary.
Curse of The Witching Tree has a lot going for it. A brooding film, that takes the long way round to tell the story, preferring to draw the watcher in through a well told intelligent script, that for the most part doesn't resort to the cheap jump scare tactics of other films of this ilk. This is as much a film about the mourning for a living yet dead man, and the strains that it puts upon the family as it is about witches and curses. The director James Crow takes a sensitive and thoughtful look at the emotional struggles that the family are going through. With well rounded characters who possess an emotional depth, we the viewer begin to care for them and hope for the best.
An intelligent script with some great dialogue goes a long way to cover up some of the lesser acting skills of the supporting cast. Don't get me wrong the acting from the main leads, in particular Sarah Rose Denton's portrayal of the mum are excellent, as was that of Lucy Clarvis who played her daughter.
Holding the film together is the assured and stylistic direction from James Crow. He has a gift for creating fantastic atmospheric shots that really add to the overall creepiness and effectiveness of the film. He is also aware of the the what makes for a good ghost / supernatural story. He skillfully builds the story's tension and emotional attachment to the characters without resorting to tired old cliches. The corner of your eyes will get a serious work out as he masterfully unveils the terror of the Witching Tree.
Taking its queue from a legend of witches and child murder Curse of the Witching Tree is an atmospheric film that despite the obvious pitfalls that arise for the budget constraints of a film like this still manages to be a highly effective ghost story that raises more than its fair share of chilling moments. Keep an eye out for James Crow he has a good future in filmmaking ahead of him.