written and directed by Andy Milton
by Walter Chaw Life as a House as a different kind of horror movie, Andy Milton's The Witch in the Window is an allegory for marriage, attachment, fatherhood tied up with restoring an old house in the country that appears to be haunted by a witch. Half of it is pretty scary, half of it is an overwritten, mawkishly-sentimental, and slow-moving drama between estranged dad Simon (Alex Draper) and his delinquent son, Finn (Charlie Tacker). It seems that Simon has bought a flipper and invited Finn to come over to help restore it, the secret being that this is all a ploy on Simon's part to get the family back together. Complicating things is the ghost of neighbourhood witch, Lydia (Carol Stanzione), who in a few effective scenes scares the ever-living crap out of Simon and Finn. It's a head-scratcher, though, because Lydia apparently wants Simon and Finn to stay with her. She sure has a funny way of showing it. There's a fine sequence where Simon talks with Lydia in the house for a while without knowing it's Lydia, but the rest of it is wildly uneven and, in the picture's more dire dialogues, unintentionally funny. Tacker is almost entirely not up to the task presented him to engage in complex, emotional exchanges, making Draper's calm, guidance-counsellor reaction to Tacker inexplicable, even hilarious. Straightforward with a coda so telegraphed that it loses whatever emotional epiphany it was meant to deliver, The Witch in the Window is obvious, predictable, and stilted in its worst moments. But it's maybe worth a look for that one scene where it all suddenly goes wrong.