Director: Zack Ward
Writers: James Cullen Bressack, Zack Ward
Stars: Emily Roya O'Brien, Adrian Gaeta, Zack Ward
Zack Ward’s feature directorial debut with a script that he co-wrote with horror veteran James Cullen Bressack is the first in, what appears to be, a long line of collaborations from the two and it’s an impressive one.
Rebecca and Todd have just moved into a home that requires a bit of, ahem, restoration and this is how they uncover the teddy bear hidden within the walls and the numerous other secrets of the house. While Rebecca (Emily O’Brien of Bressack’s Pernicious) works on her medical residency, Todd (Adrian Gaeta) dons his home improvement hat and also makes nice with the two overly friendly neighbors down the street. Harold (Ward) and Francine (Sarah Ann Schultz) immediately welcome our young couple with cookies and easily ingratiate themselves into Rebecca and Todd’s lives. While Todd is happy to oblige, Rebecca isn’t as certain and who can blame her? These days, most people don’t know their neighbor’s names, much less want to wake up to them cooking breakfast in their kitchen.
While the bones of the story are familiar (ie) young couple moves into an older home that holds an evil secret, the wife becomes pregnant and they try to uncover the central mystery, Restoration manages to unfold the story in a measured way that keeps you engaged and invested. All of the tell tale signs of a newer director are, thankfully, not present here. Ward does some fancy camera work, but never veers off into the , “Hey Mom! Look what I can do!” territory that often plagues people trying to put their personal stamp on a film. Perhaps this can partly be chalked up to Ward’s long, professional history in Hollywood, but it’s still refreshing nonetheless.
While some of Todd’s reactions to particular plot points didn’t really ring true, Gaeta plays a great everyman to O’Brien’s strong, independent woman and Ward does an excellent job of playing Harold with a balance of friendliness and foreboding. An overreaching moment of foreshadowing was a bit cumbersome and a lot of the CGI felt unnecessary, but these minor flaws are easy to overlook because everything else is wonderful. More of a mystery set inside of a horror film, Restoration feels like a throw back, but is modern at the same time. As stated earlier, this film was written by Ward and Bressack with Ward directing and fans of Bressack will feel his undeniable handprint on this movie while Ward still manages to maintain it as his own. These two gentlemen met in a sushi restaurant (see interview with Bressack here) and it appears to have been a most serendipitous meeting that horror fans will benefit from well beyond this film.