A young couple begins remodeling their home, and in the process of doing so, they uncover a young girls diary hidden in an old teddy bear that they found. Once they crack open the pages of the diary, strange supernatural occurrences begin happening around their home.
“Restoration” is the feature film debut of Zack Ward — a.k.a. that guy from “Titus”, a.k.a. Scut Farkus. I’m sure Zack loves being reminded of those two credits…constantly. And I say, that guy from “Titus” sardonically, but he’s always been a character actor I’ve enjoyed because he has good comedic timing. And I knew he was acting in the movie, which was probably the real reason why I gave this movie a shot, but at the time, I hadn’t realize he was also the writer and director of the film. Even though it was clearly stated in the press release…I can be quite dense sometimes…a lot of times…
While remodeling their home, Rebecca and Todd Jordan find a teddy bear with diary hidden inside. Within the pages of the diary, a young girl named Katherine recounts her experiences with a strange family that moved in next door. As Rebecca delves further into the diary, strange supernatural occurrences start happening around their house — and even see a ghostly apparition of Katherine. Now Rebecca and Todd must solve the mysterious disappearance of Katherine in order to bring peace back into their home. However, it isn’t before long that the young couple realize that something unholy happened within the walls of their home, and they must do what they can in order to save their home and their very souls.
When I realized Zack was the writer and director, I was curious as to what the end results were going to be since being involved in movies doesn’t necessarily mean someone knows how to direct one. And after it was all said and done, “Restoration” was…okay! Just okay. Which is both good and bad. “Restoration” is formulaic: couple moves into a house, they find an item that triggers an investigation that ties into an apparition that they see around the house, etc. The movie tries to throw in a few different twists and turns to make it a little more fresh, but the movie still follows a predictable path.
And being formulaic isn’t a bad thing. Definitely not in the realm of horror films, at least. So even though “Restoration” hits certain beats within an all too familiar plot, it’s not off-putting or offensive because the movie was well made. It maintains an enjoyable and steady pace, some good lighting and camera work, and it features a good cast. Emily Roya O’Brien and Adrian Gaeta as the couple that’s forced into this mystery from beyond the grave have a good chemistry and deliver good performances.
What makes the movie bad — and bad is too strong of a word to use here — but why I didn’t like “Restoration” is that there wasn’t anything there. The film does what it needs to in order to get by but it doesn’t do anything in order to get beyond that. There’s nothing that stands out. There’s nothing that’s memorable. One of the actual problems the movie has is that there’s no atmosphere to be found. There are the unfortunate jump scares, which is what the movie relies on, but there’s no sense of dread or tension. Which is too bad because the twist in the story (which wasn’t a twist at all since you know where the movie is heading) helped in setting up some great scenes. Like seeing someone standing outside the home at night or our two lead characters visiting an old woman in an institution. And I’ll admit, while that scene is a cliché in its own right (people visiting someone in a hospital that’s the key to the mystery), it was probably the best moment in the movie and one that highlights the small part of the story that works.
In hindsight, that might the real problem of the movie. Again, while the familiarity of the plot isn’t bad, the secondary plot is more interesting than the main story. It almost feels like a waste of time when the movie focuses on the character’s trying to solve the mystery of what happened to this little girl in order for her spirit to be at peace. Rather than spending time on this occult related storyline that’s, not only more interesting, but could have made the movie stand out more as well. Instead that one interesting element is used only as a twist in the story. The rest of the movie is wasted on resolving the disappearance/murder of this young girl, which ultimately has no baring on the actual ending of the movie. Which makes the time spent on this storyline seem even more pointless.
I understand that when it comes to movies it’s worse when something is considered to be middle-of-the-road rather than good or bad, since that means it’s more likely that said movie will go unnoticed and be forgotten. In the case of “Restoration”, I don’t think its averageness is the kiss of death. At least not immediately. Zach Ward’s feature film debut will more than likely do well in the VOD market, especially if it lands on a program like Netflix. People will watch it and probably be entertained during its 90-minute runtime — even if it’s passively — but because it doesn’t do enough, it will be forgotten shortly after.