Reviews: A Haunting in Cawdor

The Movie Sleuth reviews A Haunting in Cawdor before its U.S. release. 

This is some strange kinda porno!
Welcome to Cawdor, the only city you'll be seeing for the next 96 minutes; where no other outside life is around for another hundred miles. A work release program in the Midwest dedicated to rehabilitating young offenders as an alternative to jail time brings eight young adults to a theater run by failed Broadway director Lawrence O’Neil (Cary Elwes) in hopes of getting them on the better path in life. If all goes well after ninety days, everyone could be going home a free person. This year the theater is performing Macbeth, but the production has fallen victim to the Scottish play’s infamous curse of the past. 

Written, directed, and produced by Phil Wurtzel, A Haunting in Cawdor is a low budget psychological horror flick that you can tell has its heart in the right place. Not spending much money on special effects, and keeping it to one location, the film depends mostly on the script and the actors. A couple familiar faces are Cary Elwes, who was in The Princess Bride and SAW, as the theatre director, who despite knowing the cursed past with Macbeth, decides it's a good idea to give it another shot. Also in the movie is Michael Welch from Twilight, playing the role of Roddy, a local outcast and sort of love interest to Vivian who pops up like one of those video game characters that always comes around to give you clues as to what you need to do, but when you actually need them they're nowhere to be found.

Shouldn't have had that Taco Bell. 
Filled with a few jump scares and hazy dark visions, this isn't so much of a classic horror movie type as it is a director's attempt at recreating Macbeth, which has a high school campy feel to it.The camera is mostly all handheld which means some shots get nauseating and totally distract from the scene itself, taking away some of the scare factor. Using mostly only one location works for the film. As an extra shout out to the location scout, the theatre was stylistically perfect.

Cawdor caters to teen angst by covering all manners of young people’s problems. From the more light-hearted crushes, to the more serious abuse issues, Cawdor takes it all on. With many recognized personality types, a few laughs can be had at pin pointing some character traits that you may know far too well in real life. The ending did not seem abrupt, but felt like something was missing. It was also predictable and one of the most popular choices for ending horror movies lately. Although the script was simple and cheesy, and the acting was sub-par, had this been a high school project it would probably pass with flying colors. Unfortunately on The Sleuth scale, it's just under satisfactory.


-Kirsten Anderson