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New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - THE ATONING

THE ATONING movie review
Parents conceal a dark secret from their young housebound son.







Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Michael Williams

Starring: Virginia Newcomb, Michael LaCour, Cannon Bosarge, Ashlyn Jade Lopez, Dorothy Weems

THE ATONING poster

The Atoning begins with a startling scene of a child murdered while he sleeps in his bed, his anxious mother in the next room, and though this turns out to seemingly be a dream, it’s a good way to kick off a horror movie. Unfortunately the pace slows down to a crawl after this and doesn’t really pick up until the denouement.

The Atoning tells the story of father Ray (an aloof and sullen Michael LaCour) mother Vera (Virginia Newcomb) and son Sam (Cannon Bosarge), who are apparently housebound for some mysterious reason, and regrettably, it seems the house they are trapped in is haunted. What we have here is the day to day life of shut-ins and the big secret the parents talk around - when is best to reveal ‘it’ to Sam, how will he react etc.

THE ATONING

It takes a long time to get the reveal (or at least it feels that way) and when it comes out it is a familiar but effective one. The finale involves demonic figures portrayed by very flexible people in black body suits and paint - strangely effective while they are all whispering around the frame with their smoke-like vapoury appearances, but look at them too long and it can take you out of the film and straight to a contemporary dancing troupe.

The denouement is satisfying but drawn out to the point of distraction, though it is a sweet cathartic feeling you are left with.

THE ATONING

The direction is satisfactory, and the music and sound in general are effective, but the house itself, which is the only set we see, is uninteresting, and it’s hard to get a sense of where each room is in relation to the next.

The strength of this film lies in the casting of Vera and Sam. Both actors are exceptional in this and their skills elevate the quality of this film more than it deserves. Bosarge is never less than totally convincing, and his ability to make the audience empathise is what involves you emotionally in the rest of the film, no matter how much the mid-section sags. Newcomb runs the full gamut of emotions, and her scenes with her son are the most engaging of the film.

THE ATONING

I’m all for slow build horror films but the build up should be punctuated with more and lasting ‘scares’ than this one, as that’s what sustains the drawn out storyline for the viewer. At an hour and a half, this film felt much much longer and seemed to have taken a solid concept but failed to create a substantial enough framing story around the main plot; therefore it felt stretched to breaking point. This is a shame, as this would have made a nifty and effecting short horror film. A tighter script and a bit more editing would have made a world of difference.

As it is we have a strange beast - a well acted, oddly sad, occasionally creepy, bloated horror movie.

As a film it kinda fails.. but as a short? Bring it on!

The Atoning is on DVD/VOD now.



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