House on Willow Street could have been so much more. The potential is certainly there but, unfortunately, the cliches take over completely.

I really hoped House on Willow Street (or From a House on Willow Street) would be a wonderful ride into demonic madness. I even tried to stay positive a lot longer than I usually would. Unfortunately, my patience only lasts for so long and I had to give up.

The basic story is simply too lazy. And the lines these actors are saying? I doubt even Meryl Streep could’ve made them seem legit.

The very beginning of House on Willow Street reminded me a bit of Don’t Breathe. Both involve desperate people planning to break into a home to cash in quickly.

Where Don’t Breathe was all about getting literal cash from the house, this movie is about kidnapping and a ransom.

Not that it matters, because the two movies are nothing alike. One is scary and keeps you captivated. This one does not.

House on Willow Street does have one thing going for it

I admit I expected Sharni Vinson to be the highlight of this movie for me. I loved her in You’re Next. She was absolutely amazing and the movie is a total feel-good experience for me. Unfortunately, even she seemed lackluster in House on Willow Street. She literally looks extremely tired (and skinny), which doesn’t exactly invoke fear in anyone.

If you watch this movie and then check out her performance in You’re Next, then I doubt you’ll even recognize her at first. I really hope she’ll be back to blowing my mind when I see her again! It’s never fun to watch one of your heroes falter. Hopefully, she’ll be back to form in Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets which is currently in post-production.


On the plus side, the actor playing the kidnapping victim was a very pleasant surprise. Sure, she did have a more intriguing role, but still, Carlyn Burchell was a total scene-stealer. Especially in the beginning, when no effects were in play and it was just her.

Any scenes with just Sharni Vinson and Carlyn Burchell were the very best in the movie. Probably because they brought out the best in each other. That was certainly one good thing the movie had going for it.

When Hazel (Carlyn Burchell) first looked at her kidnappers in defiance, I thought maybe House on Willow Street would become a lot better.

It didn’t.

I just wanted more…

It’s difficult to say exactly where House on Willow Street fell short for me. I mean, on paper it sounds like it could be pretty awesome.

But everything just fell short somehow. The strong characters suddenly turned whiny and the annoying characters were just annoying for no real reason. It’s only 90 minutes long and still, it felt too long.

Also, too much of the acting was just off, but I do feel that the script is probably to blame. At least to some degree. So yeah, I just expected more… and I wanted more!

The House on Willow Street horror movie review - Sharni Vinson and Carlyn Burchell

Alastair Orr directed House on Willow Street and he’s done horror before. He directed movies like Indigenous in 2014 and Expiration in 2011. I have no doubt he can make better movies than he did with this one, so I really don’t know what went wrong. Maybe it’s just a case of “Less is more” and he gave us way too much with this one.

The script was written by Catherine Blackman, Jonathan Jordaan, and director Alastair Orr. Jonathan Jordaan also worked on the aforementioned Expiration and only has these two titles on his IMDb resume so far. Catherine Blackman worked in the Costume and Makeup department on the above mention Orr movies. This is her first credit as a writer.

House on Willow Street will be out in limited US release and on VOD on March 24, 2017. It originally premiered at London FrightFest Film Festival in August 2016.


Director: Alastair Orr
Writer: Catherine Blackman, Jonathan Jordaan, Alastair Orr
Cast: Carlyn Burchell, Gustav Gerdener, Zino Ventura, Sharni Vinson, Steven John Ward


After a young woman is kidnapped, her captors soon come to realize that they’re the ones in danger. This particular young woman has a dark secret inside her.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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