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New Release Review - A HAUNTING IN CAWDOR

A troubled teen investigates a murder while on probation with a theatre group for young offenders.


Review by Emily Craig (@emillycraig)

Directed by: Phil Wurtzel

Starring: Shelby Young, Cary Elwes, Michael Welch, Alexandria DeBerry




"Unfortunately, there are too many over dramatic scenes in the film, which ultimately lead to nothing but an extremely disappointing finale that opens even more questions yet to be answered."




This tense supernatural thriller is directed by Phil Wurtzel (The Chameleon 2001) and is about a young girl named Vivian (Shelby Young, American Horror Story) who is on a 90 day probation in which she and some others are sent out to The Cawdor Barn Theatre where they are placed on a strict routine of exercise and order. The criminals each year are set a play to learn throughout their time, and this time it’s the same as the previous – Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
The theatre is run by previous Tony award winner Lawrence O’Neil (Cary Elwes, Saw 2004) who is no longer in Broadway; he dedicates his time to teaching juvenile thugs the meaning of theatre. In the opening scene, Vivian is waiting for her ride to the barn where she meets a young girl named Jeanette (Alexandria DeBerry) who mysteriously disappears; she is also introduced to love interest Roddy (Michael Welch, The Twilight Saga) who claims he visits the Barn Theatre often; these two characters end up having a significant part later in the film.
Further down the line it is revealed that Vivian has mental issues when her psychiatrist visits the barn; Vivian had been telling her fellow criminals that she was sentenced because of petty theft, when in fact it was for murder, which leads to a lot of questioning about Vivian’s discoveries – is it all in her head? After one day of rehearsals, Vivian heads to the TV room where she finds an old tape of Macbeth, which reveals the same girl she saw at the start of the film on stage as she is murdered by a mysterious hooded figure. With the help of Roddy, she tries to uncover the mystery whilst having doubts about her own mental stability.
From start to finish, we see flashbacks of Vivian’s past trauma – most likely how she ended up in jail; the audience knows she had previously been abused and that she has killed somebody. What I don’t like is who she murdered is never actually revealed. The film plays on her past so much and then never concludes what happened, which is a major plot hole. The audience needs this information in order to make their own interpretations on what happened at the end of the film.
The dialogue at times can be abrupt and nonsensical, which is mostly from the male characters in the film. The acting from the majority of the cast is pretty good, particularly from Shelby Young and Cary Elwes (a huge improvement from his acting in Saw). Unfortunately, there are too many over dramatic scenes in the film, which ultimately lead to nothing but an extremely disappointing finale that opens even more questions yet to be answered.




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