Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Restoration: If These Walls Could Talk, They’d Scream for Help

When you think teddy bears and lock-and-key diaries, do you think cute or creepy? In this neighborhood, they are definitely creepy, especially the diary Todd and Rebecca Jordan found sewn-up in a battered teddy bear, plastered behind the wall of their new suburban home. It turns out the journal was kept by a little girl who lived there many years ago. Whatever happened to her isn’t over yet in director-co-writer-co-star Zack Ward’s Restoration (trailer here), which releases today on VOD.

Rebecca Jordan is a doctor in her residency and Todd is handy with power tools. They plan to remodel extensively, but that is okay. They bought their house at a bargain price after the grumpy old man living there passed away, leaving behind an extensive teddy bear collection. Todd therefore thinks little of it when he finds yet another while ripping up the walls, even though it has Macguffin written all over it. He is more distracted by the nosy neighbors, Harold and Francine, who seem to think they could all be the next Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (the sitcom version).

Strange things start happening shortly thereafter, spurring Rebecca to read young Katherine’s double secret diary. It turns out a serial killer was preying on children while she was writing, striking increasingly close to home. They have reason to believe her restless spirit is still tethered to the house, as well as something much more malevolent.

As horror movies go, Restoration is quite serviceable. In fact, Katherine’s backstory sequences tap into some pretty deep, dark, archetypal anxieties. However, it is a slower starter and a weak finisher, giving us way too much martial angst and “howdy neighbor” exchanges. Out of the three horror films hitting theaters or VOD this week, it ranks in third place.

Emily Roya O’Brien has some poise and presence as the reasonable proactive Rebecca Jordan, but Adrian Gaeta is rather bland and forgettable as Todd. However, Ward and Sarah Ann Shultz give the film regular energy boosts as Harold and Francine, playing off each other quite nicely.

All things considered, Restoration is undeniable competent by genre standards, but it ought to be more special. Diehard horror fans can safely save it for later and casual fans can take it or leave it. Earning a passing grade but not with distinction, Restoration is now available on VOD platforms.