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Restoration (2016)

Written by James Cullen Bressack & Zack Ward Directed by Zack Ward

Having spent a majority of his life behind the camera it seemed only a natural transition for Zack Ward to mature into Directing. Deciding to create two scripts back to back with his producing partner and co-writer James Cullen Bressack, Ward choose to focus on this, his directorial debut and let Bressack handle the other project Bethany, which is scheduled to come out next month.

Restoration is about a married couple that moves into a new neighborhood after Rebecca (Emily Roya O’Brien) received a residency at the local Hospital. Having always supported her in every endeavor, it was a simply decision for her husband Todd (Adrian Gaeta) to make as they settled in. Keeping busy by handling some renovations around the house he discovers a teddy bear within one of the walls that would soon hold more than meets the eye. Introduced to the rather welcoming neighbors whose candid way of speaking seemed normal unless an avid watcher of these films. Because no one is ever that friendly in real life without a reason. Sure enough, making their presence regularly known, almost paranoid at the idea of leaving the new neighbors to themselves. But given ample time to read the contents of the 30-year-old diary found inside the bear. Rebecca taking to the author (Katie) who spoke of playing Nancy Drew with her friends who had just moved in, Delia and Robert. Stating how unfair their mother had been after playing too close to the electrical towers with the siblings. Though holding secrets of their own the children planned to discover by unveiling some sort of secret ritual held within the separate basement had.

Todd affected more personally from the spirit awoken while left alone at home one night (Rebecca working a late shift) yet forced to visit her after receiving burn marks in the shape of handprints left on his arms. In what he could only describe as some nightmare experienced. After released and dining that night with Francine (Sarah Ann Schultz) and Harold (Ward) we hear some of their not so random history concerning a many great-grandfather and other ancestors August and Drusilla, the “apples from the poison tree.” Sharing of their inability to bear children and to top off, Harold recently handed a death sentence when diagnosed with lung cancer. Except Rebecca and Todd decide to still follow through with the information read in the diary and visit Linda Carruthers of which they obtain information dealing with finding Katie’s body, buried beneath the electrical transformer. Prompting them to rush home in an attempt to flee the place entirely though Rebecca is used as bait and a round of semi confusing antics occur, leaving us with a transfer of both souls into Rebecca and one(?) of the twins had nine months later. (Oh yea, Rebecca had recently discovered she was pregnant) Leaving enough questions unanswered or completely losing audiences entirely always a rather fine line.

Frankly the story rings familiar bells from a handful of other thrillers. Making the twists coming only unforeseen if unfamiliar with the equations these films tend to follow. Where the real excitement lay was from what the future may hold from the Actor turned Director. Being quite apparent that he and the cinematographer had a clear understanding for the vision of the film, the aesthetics undoubtedly stole the show. Having not known a lot going in, I was surprised at the entrancing opening they had with the music chosen. Also hoping it would pave the way for what was to come, but it does stop short. Which was not to say so much that the movie disappoints, it just reiterates too many elements seen before without carrying them through in a cohesive matter.

Though a by far better cast than usually associated with a lot of independent films. Typically we see these films follow the approach of obtaining many cameos that suffice for what the film may otherwise lack or the completely opposite path which yields an entire cast of unfamiliar names in which a gamble of how good they are at their job plays into hand. Though as co-writer/director and more than enough to take on I liked that Ward also starred as co-antagonist. He has a great face and is very expressive, adding life to what others may be unable to provide for the role. However they are kidding themselves if not knowing how completely obvious he was, glasses or not! Neither are there any scares worth mentioning, it simply provided a steady tone that was left open for the possibility of a sequel.