August 31, 2020 Widow’s Point (Movie Review)
There has been no shortage of great films centered around lighthouses in recent years. From 2018’s Cold Skin and Dark Beacon to 2019’s The Lighthouse, phallic architecture appears to be inspiring filmmakers in droves. So prepare yourself for the latest fanal offering, Widow’s Point, which arrives to DVD and Digital on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 via 101 Films.
Craig Sheffer (Some Kind of Wonderful 1987, Nightbreed 1990) harnesses his inner Zak Bagans as he takes on the leading role in the new Supernatural Thriller. Written and directed by Gregory Lamberson (Slime City Massacre 2010, Killer Rack 2015), and based off the 2018 Horror novella of the same name by Billy and Richard Chizmar, Widow’s Point is the story of Thomas Livingston (Sheffer), a best-selling author who finds inspiration in tales of the paranormal. On the hunt for the muse behind his next novel, he finds himself spending a weekend locked inside the reportedly haunted Widow’s Point Lighthouse in Harper’s Cove.
With the help of technical whiz Andre (Dominic Luongo: Game Changers 2016, Fart Force mini-series) and his publicist Rosa (KateLynn E. Newberry: Auditorium 6 short 2017, Homecoming Revenge 2018), as well as his agent, Marshall (Richard Satterwhite: Battledogs 2013, Homicidal Vengeance 2020), Livingston films his entire escapade inside the walls of Widow’s Point. Though as he details the location’s history, he begins to question if ghost stories are merely meant for “children and adults with child-like sensibilities,” or if every spirited tale is based in bloody truth.
With all the hallmarks of a low-budget film, Widow’s Point is a mixed bag of results. Its aim appears to be a Lovecraftian Thriller with psychological elements, but the final result is definitely not that. Set in the Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse on Lake Erie—where the first shot of the War of 1812 was fired—the location may be thick with real history, but it lacks in the isolation and craggy rocks that set the ominous mood necessary to make the beacon anything more than a building. After all, you cannot see the architecture’s historical significance, only that it is from another time.
Where the film first goes awry is in its establishing moments as it attempts to create tension and craft a haunting vibe. From the outset, all of the mystery is largely stripped away as we are led to believe that ghosts lurking inside these walls is nearly an unequivocal fact. And the most frequently spotted spirit (Willow Anwar: Kimberly 1999) is far from eerie or disturbing. Which is fine. There’s a certain Ghost Adventures tone to Livingston’s exploits, one that is dramatic and silly without intentionally trying to be goofy.
The story’s set up is certainly intriguing, with Livingston taking up temporary residence at the lighthouse and then recounting the historical tales of disappearances, suicides, and murder that have occurred within its walls. Proof of the so-called Widow’s Point Curse is depicted in flashbacks to the past, including a 1989 film crew and 1933 caretaker’s family. Unfortunately, these flashback scenes are identical in vibrancy and looks to the ‘present,’ losing a certain authenticity that could have made them more impactful. Even the set dressing and wardrobe feel absent of a true attempt to take us back in time.
A missed opportunity, this lack of attention to detail infiltrates other elements of the film, as well. Poor audio mixing is another issue throughout, along with a score that, at times, absolutely dwarfs the onscreen action. None of this necessarily spells the film’s doom, though it doesn’t help its bizarre, slow-moving script that eventually reaches a plot twist so ridiculous and poorly-executed that it is laughable.
Putting this aside, clearly Sheffer’s acting abilities are driving this vehicle. Though he is joined by others—including Kaelin Lamberson (Slime City Massacre 2010, Dry Bones 2013), Amy Hoffman (The True Adventures of Wolfboy 2019, Echo Falls short 2020), and John Renna (Gore 2009, Dick Johnson & Tommygun vs. The Cannibal Cop: Based on a True Story 2018)—he is the focus of Widow’s Point. While the character of Livingston is a fairly blasé trope, Sheffer injects a passion into his performance that borders on Shakespearean at times, particularly when he begins to psychologically unravel. In this, Livingston can barely contain Sheffer, just as Sheffer can barely contain Livingston; the actor and his role becoming inexplicably intertwined.
But Sheffer’s performance alone cannot repair the issues that mire Widow’s Point in mediocrity. With failed jump scares and a lack of fluidity in much of the dialogue exchanges, as well as a largely predictable story, this is a ghost story without the eerie feels. Instead, Widow’s Point is a banal Supernatural Thriller with slight Sci-Fi vibes that can barely fill its succinct runtime with enough thrills to hold its viewers’ attention. But an attempt was made and Sheffer refuses to go down without a fight, so, for this, Cryptic Rock gives the film 3 of 5 stars.