Director – Tennyson Bardwell
Cast – Tim Daly, Tom Arnold, Zoe Saldana, Edward Herrmann, Andrea Roth, Robert Prosky, Bruce Altman, Reila Aphrodite, Lea Coco, Sara Weaver, L.J. Foley, Paul Tietjen
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
My love for haunted house films lead me to this one, and the fact that I am quite the skeptic myself (on everything BUT the paranormal) I figured I’d like the subject matter. Well, despite starting off very well The Skeptic was not as great as I expected it to be, suffering from numerous writing faults that left it falling flat in the end.
After the death of his unlikable rich aunt, lawyer Bryan Becket, the only heir to his aunt, sees an opportunity to make some serious money by selling him her large home. When he learns that she instead left her home to a college agency focusing on the unexplained, he also learns that she believed her home was haunted, and soon learns that despite his skepticism there is definitely something wrong with the home.
I’ve said it numerous times in the past and I will say it again – I love horror films where someone moves into a new home and suffers the consequences of its haunted past. The first act of the film started off very well, with the first few spooks coming in subtle but effective variety. Our lead comes off as the usual asshole lawyer who believes logic and reason can explain every mystery there is, and boy is he wrong. Immediately after entering the home he is bombarded with odd sounds and unexplainable whispering, which eventually build up into haunting manifestations that remove all skepticism and force him to deal with the issue without the help of logic and science. Sadly, it is when the horror is “supposed” to get good that the film begins to fall flat. The writing execution of Bryan’s past and the ghosts he sees is mediocre at its very best, removing all of the positives earned during the first half of the film and ending on a lame note that solidified my feelings that this storyline cost the film heavily.
Director Tennyson Bardwell did a decent job with this film, giving us good atmosphere and positive sets throughout. The acting performances were decent as well, and Tim Daly’s performance as Bryan started off great but eventually fell just as flat as the storyline did. I mentioned earlier that the horror was great at first, and I applaud Mr. Bardwell for that, but he really let things go for the worst once things began to fall into place and the “horror” kicked in. It was pretty surprising to me that not only the writing but also the direction suffered when the film picked up on the horror, but that is the hand we are dealt with in The Skeptic – a film I wish (here it comes) I was more “skeptical” over prior to watching.
Overall, The Skeptic is a very mediocre piece that started off well but eventually fell to both poor writing and direction. Despite the early positives this is one film that you should most likely avoid if you are looking for a good experience, or just watch the first half and then pop in something better.