BITS 2015: Farhope Tower
Standing tall just on the outskirts of the city, Farhope Tower looms over the community like an ominous beacon of terror in the night. Nicknamed the “suicide tower,” for the number of unexplained deaths that have occurred, Farhope has become a place of urban legend. The abandoned building has become so menacing that not even those seasoned in all things paranormal will dare pass through its doors.
Unfortunately, for five upstart paranormal investigators, Farhope is the one thing that can presumably launch them toward the fame they desperately covet. Trying to land a television realty show, Jake (John White) and his team – including right-hand man Andre (Evan Williams), camera operators Judy (Lauren Collins) and Simon (Tim Doiron) and newcomer Zoe (April Mullen, who also directs the film) – are tasked by a network executive to get some truly scary footage if they hope to separate themselves from other ghost hunter shows. They are informed that the only way they can secure a television series is if they shoot their pilot episode within Farhope.
Encountering the building in his youth, and seeing the strange effect it had on Jake, Andre is reluctant to subject the rest of the team to the possible horrors that lay within. However, with the window of fame quickly closing, the group agrees to venture inside with the understanding that they will abandon the project if things get too dangerous. At first their concerns seem to be unwarranted as they only sounds they hear come from the creeks their footsteps create, however, as they proceed higher up in the derelict building, it becomes apparent that a terrible force has no intentions of letting them leave.
April Mullen’s haunted house tale is one that, if nothing else, is filled with great potential. The premise will evoke thoughts of Grave Encounters for seasoned horror fans, but it is the shades of The Shining that make the film interesting. As the audience watches certain characters descend into madness, Mullen forces them to ponder whether it is the characters or the building that is more deadly. This is further accentuated by the strong cinematography and the wonderful use of makeup that really helps to convey the toll the house is taking on the team.
The use of the creepy “Go Up” messaging throughout nicely adds to the eerie atmosphere as well.
Despite the many things the film does well, Farhope Tower never overcomes the script’s unnecessary need to telegraph every beat well in advance. The film opens with, and frequently calls back to, an incident that happened at the tower in 1977. So much emphasis is placed on the scene that it becomes rather easy to connect the dots to events occurring in the present. As a result Farhope Tower never provides the level of surprise one would expect from a film like this. It often feels like the plot devices are shoehorned in simply to ensure that the narrative hits obvious notes.
While the technical aspects and strong work by the entire cast are enough to entertain on a base level, Farhope Tower’s predictable script keeps the film from reaching the truly chilling heights it strives for.
Tonight, 7:00 PM, Carlton Cinemas
Tickets can be purchased at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival website.