October 23, 2020  (Web Review)

The Luring

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

A persuasive, low-budget horror romp, The Luring brazenly draws on multiple influences from Stephen King, especially The Shining and It. But writer-director Christopher Wells is so obvious in his admiration for the master you can’t help but cheer him on for his honesty. Garret (Rick Irwin) is a scruffy young man when we meet him in the film, following a prelude that sets up how a lakeside cabin in Vermont is a trap for the innocent to be led to their dooms. We see Garret with his therapist, who establishes that an entire month of Garret’s childhood has long been blotted from his memory, and that his partial amnesia is somehow linked to time spent in that remote, spooky, Vermont vacation home. An invitation from a mysterious woman over social media causes Garret to return to that cabin, this time with his longtime girlfriend, Claire (Michaela Sprague), a real sweetheart who half expects him to propose to her in the isolated setting. Instead, Garret gradually goes all Jack Nicholson on her, his madness and the cabin’s terrible secrets conjuring specters and ghouls that invade poor Claire’s waking nightmare as well as his own. A viewer can watch all this with a smirk and cynically catalog references to King’s many creations, or instead enjoy the bravura and squirm-worthy effectiveness of Wells’ gift for striking one subconscious nerve after another. Sure, the recurring appearance of a red balloon as a harbinger of destruction is reason to roll your eyes, but The Luring is at least making an effort. Wells sets himself up for real challenges by shooting probably 70% of this movie in the dark, making some of the action a visual challenge while obscuring monsters just enough to make you doubt your own sanity. Strongly recommended. (T. Keogh)