“This is a bad place. People aren’t meant to live here.”
Widow’s Point is a supernatural horror adaptation by screenwriter-director Gregory Lamberson of the best-selling book co-written by Richard Chizmar and his son, Billy.
The sorely-missed-from-the-big-screen Craig Sheffer (Yes, of A River Runs Through It . . . but this is B&S About Movies, bud. So we remember Craig for his start in Voyage of the Rock Aliens, as the rich-dick in Some Kind of Wonderful, and Clive Barker’s Nightbreed) stars as Thomas Livingston, a Stephen King-esque writer who spends a self-exiled weekend in a haunted lighthouse to help promote his next book—and where he’s taunted by the Point’s supernatural forces.
Dow on his luck and in desperate need of a new best-seller, he decides to write a book on “true events” that occurred at the Widow’s Point Lighthouse in Harper’s Cover—with the hopes the advanced publicity will generate advanced sales. At that point, things go a little Blair Witch-cum-Poltergeist as Livingston’s assistant, Rosa, along with Andre, a filmmaker, will accompany him to the island to chronicle “the stunt.” Of course, the mysterious lighthouse keeper will take the rental cash, even if it’s a “bad place,” because greed is good. And as far as Livingston is concerned, ghosts and their related curses are just urban legends and fables. And Parker locks the door to the lighthouse. . . .
Before we get to the Poltergeistin’, Livingston’s book research unfolds a series of flashbacks about the house’s history: the suicide of an actress that occurred while the house served as the backdrop for a Hollywood production, an early-1900 father slaughters his family-by-hammer, and a young girl who comes to meet the lighthouse’s ghostly occupant in the woods surrounding the house during a family outing. And as the stories unfold (sort of like an unofficial anthology under Sheffer’s whiskey-soaked, wraparound story-cum-voice narration), things get to ‘giestin’ for him, Rosa, and Andre, as they come to discover the urban legends of the lighthouse are true—and that they’re about to become the next chapter in the lighthouse’s never-ending tale. . . .
Gregory Lamberson has come a long, long way since his deliciously weird ’80s VHS renter Slime City (1988)—an amazing career-trajectory growth that reminds of William Riead’s late ’80s work on the Dirty Harry-cum-Chuck Norris actioner Scorpion (1986) culminating with his biographical passion project, The Letters (2014), which explored the life of Mother Teresa.
Lamberson’s adaptation of the family Chizmar tale commands a novel-analogous—courtesy of Livingston’s voice over as he researches-writes—slow burn unraveling a fear that turns to dread for the characters. You’re not watching a movie: you’ve just curled up with an engrossing, good book for the evening. Not many films can pull that “feeling” off.
Remember how you felt when you watched Frank Darabont’s spot-on adaptations of Stephen’s King’s The Mist and The Green Mile? That’s the level of quality Lamberson has brought to the big screen in this, his eighth feature film writing-directing credit. And while Sheffer may have fallen off our radar (younger fans will know him from his from nine-year run as Keith Scott on TV’s One Tree Hill), it’s great to see him again in a mainstream feature film, showing us why we became fans of his work in the first place. Here’s to hoping Craig Sheffer’s Oscar-caliber work in Widow’s Point will propel him out his recent work as a TV series guest star and direct-to-video leading man back to carrying quality films, such as The River Runs Through It and Nightbreed, all those years ago.
Disclaimer: We were provided a screener by the film’s P.R firm. That has no bearing on our review.