For a story of a modern-day witch devouring children, there’s not actually a lot of meat on this gristly, grisly offering. The foley artist sure had a field day creating all those bone-crunching sound effects but it’s a shame the story couldn’t have been fattened up a bit more before being served up.
Ben is struggling to come to terms with his parents’ impending divorce and spending the summer at his family’s lake house with his father is doing little to lift his spirits. But domestic troubles become the least of his worries when he spies some strange goings-on at the neighbour’s house and starts to suspect the wife next door has been possessed by a child-chomping witch.
The set-up is actually pretty intriguing but it spends a lot of time going through the repetitive rigmarole of the main character trying to convince everyone that the monster is real only for the monster to pick people off one by one as soon as they realise its real. There’s a beautifully macabre explanation for how a child-eating witch can survive almost in plain sight for so long without detection but the film makes the unfortunate choice, again and again, to set up its rules and then arbitrarily ignore them when it’s narratively convenient.
When it works, it works really well. The cast are likeable and the practical effects – although somewhat clichéd – are extremely effective. When it doesn’t work, or trips over its own set-up, it’s still pretty okay. Plenty of atmosphere and the occasional jump scare suffice but it never quite lives up to its promise.