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Widow’s Point
by Gregory Lamberson

Familiar territory isn’t always a bad thing when it comes to horror. Genre fans who turn their nose up at the fifth haunted house flick of 2020 or a little-known, low-budget slasher show a blatant disrespect for the humble origins of these staples themselves. More often than not, you’re off to a great start with a suitably ominous location like an abandoned insane asylum or isolated lighthouse. At the very least, it provides you the opportunity to subvert expectations and contribute one or two moments of originality to an otherwise well-trodden arena. Horror is full of such offerings at the moment and diamonds in the rough are actually there in spades if you’re willing to mine for them. Widow’s Point, however, is not one of them. At all. Sorry to get your hopes up.

Based on the novella by horror author Richard Chizmar, writing alongside his son Billy Chizmar (who earns himself a cheeky cameo), Widow's Point sees Craig Sheffer of Nightbreed fame fill the role of Thomas Livingstone, himself a horror author, who is to spend a weekend in the haunted and storied lighthouse as part of a publicity stunt ahead of his new book. With only a camera rig and microphone with which to stay in touch with two colleagues on the other side of a locked door, Thomas catches us up on the gruesome history of the lighthouse while experiencing increasingly menacing phenomena of his own.

Along the way, Widow's Point throws every trope in the trunk at you with shameless abandon from the start of its lean ninety-minute runtime and leaves little room for any new horror ground in the fleeting moments in which some originality might break through. Even an unexpectedly Lovecraftian turn in the final moments isn’t enough to inspire any sort of redemption; after sitting through ominously autonomous hobby horses, independently slamming doors, Amityville-style possess'n'slays, you will have truly given up any hope of a redemptive scare.

Sheffer is, arguably, a horror legend (perhaps my Clive Barker bias is showing through) and has more gravitas and charisma than the rest of the cast combined. It's a shame, then, that while we're supposed to be watching him struggle to maintain his sanity, we're instead watching him struggle with clunky dialogue, mediocre set ups, and stakes that never really feel all that high.

The film relies almost entirely on imposing musical cues to inspire the jumps which are often at odds with the creeping dread that might have, in other hands, played nicely into the isolation and closed room setting. There are hints at a good film buried somewhere within, but it feels like perhaps circumstances around production and scheduling denied all involved the ability to refine the rougher elements.

Even the lighthouse looks more like a charming coastal family vacation spot than a monolithic catalyst for inexplicable dread the film tries to make it out to be.

It's wholly unfortunate that Widow's Point is such a miss. As someone whose life ambition it is to spend the rest of his days writing horror novels from within his own haunted lighthouse, this could not have been a more highly-anticipated watch.

Never one to be wholly negative, I feel it necessary to add that the final fifteen-or-so minutes could easily serve as an introduction to a story that takes the mythos outward to a much broader stage, should Chizmar decide upon a sequel. I would watch it.

I just wish I hadn't watched this.

HMS received a screener of this film in exchange for honest review. Widow's Point is out now on DVD and VOD.

Ryan Kennedy, HMS

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