26 October 2009 | claudialora
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: A "haunted house" film for those who thought they'd seen it all.
I have seen hundreds of horror movies. There isn't much in the genre that shocks me anymore. New releases (whether original or remakes of classics) hit the theaters on a regular basis, all with variations of the standard "Scariest film of the year!" review. In my opinion almost all have be mediocre at best, failing to live up to the hype that preceded them. Sadly, it has been decades since a horror film caused me to jump and scream at various times. I'm thrilled to report that "The Skeptic" was able to do just that, which means I'm recommending it as a must-see for all lovers of "haunted house" films who thought they'd seen it all before.
The title character is a lawyer, Brian Becket (brilliantly played by Tim Daly). Becket is someone you'll love to hate, someone you can't wait to see get "his comeuppance". He is self-assured, sarcastic, arrogant, insensitive, emotionally frigid and (of course) skeptical of everything. He will not give credence to beliefs that can't be backed up with indisputable facts. Upon moving into the home of a recently deceased aunt he begins to experience strange phenomena that he, at first, believes are hallucinations brought on by sleep deprivation and high stress. As the film unfolds, Becket learns shocking truths about his aunt's house and his own past. Through the course of the film he slowly begins to change...and the proverbial shoe moves to the other foot. He is now the one who must successfully explain the unexplainable to skeptics...and he frustratingly cannot win a single argument because there are rational explanations for everything. About half-way through the film you'll stop hating Becket and not only start liking him, but begin empathizing with him and eventually feel sorry for him.
This film has everything you could possibly want in a "haunted house" film: an eerie-looking mansion filled with bizarre antiques, creaky floors and dark corners, a mysterious locked closet, ghostly images that will truly come out of nowhere, etc. What this film does not have is a satisfying ending. To those who enjoy psychoanalyzing films for hidden meanings, the ending will be poignant and acceptable. To others, the ending will be an abrupt disappointment and can be summed up this way: "That's it?!?
THE BOTTOM LINE: On a scale of 1-10, it is a very strong 8. I highly recommend "The Skeptic" to all horror/thriller buffs who are looking for a great "haunted house" story. If you are a fan of blood and gore, this film won't deliver. If you prefer movies with endings that neatly tie off all their loose ends, this film won't deliver either. HOWEVER...if you enjoy films filled with riveting suspense that slowly builds, throwing unexpected shockers at you along the way, then you will really enjoy this film.