Restoration Poster

‘Restoration’ : A Medley of Elements

Restoration (2016)

Directed by Zack Ward

Synopsis:Courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment
While renovating their house a couple finds a diary hidden in the walls, lost for 30 years. Opening the book releases the ghost of a child that haunts their dreams and waking life, driving them to find the cause of her death and release her soul.

Restoration tells the story of a young couple who moves into their dream home.  Rebecca (Emily O’Brien) is an up and coming doctor, and Todd (Adrian Gaeta) is something of a stay at home husband. Things get complicated when they discover a diary written by a little girl who went missing some years before. The couple then sets out to find out what happened to the girl, all while dealing with being newly married, new neighbors, and the ghost of the little girl haunting the house.

Tons of cool stuff is crammed into Restoration: there’s a haunted diary, The Occult, the ghost of a little girl haunting a house, spiritual/Satanist elements, and an intense and well shot scene in a psychiatric ward.  There’s also a random, out of place fistfight near the end and one of the most tonally strange sex scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie.  All of these things are cool. Some of them work, and some of them don’t.  I had trouble seeing how they all fit together, and it seems like the filmmakers are having the same problem. One story is being told when things start, the story I detailed above, and then within 30 minutes the film totally changed course.  The merging of different sub-genres is fine: who doesn’t want a murder mystery/haunted house/occult story? The challenge ends up being how to combine all of these elements in a cohesive way that supports the story.

The general tone deafness and confusion is largely caused by the editing; things just aren’t communicated very clearly on both a small and a large scale. All that being said, there were scenes and elements that I genuinely enjoyed, particularly the sequence in the psychiatric ward. It’s well shot, concise, and tense. It’s too far into the movie to talk about without spoiling the rest of the plot but you’ll know it when you see it. It will leave you wishing the rest of the movie had that level of clarity.

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The performances by the principle cast members were enjoyable. They were given a lot to work with, and they do their best to match the tonal rollercoaster ride they’re both on. Emily O’Brien and Adrian Gaeta have great chemistry as the leads and are able to match each other pretty well in both humorous and intense moments. Director Zack Ward delivers an enigmatic performance as the young couple’s helpful yuppie neighbor.

Restoration is worth a watch due to a few scenes that really work.  It leaves you wishing the rest of the movie wasn’t so disorganized because, with more of a focused plot, we really might have had something good here. This is Ward’s first feature as a director, but his filmography as an actor suggest he’s been around the block with low budget horror and knows how it’s done.  I applaud the filmmaker for taking on such an ambitious project, and I hope that as he matures as a director his focus will narrow. He’s got something to say but, like a kid in a candy store, he’s a bit over-eager and doesn’t know what to unwrap first.

5 out of 10 Splats of Blood