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Roost, The Print E-mail
User Rating: / 2
Written by Elaine Lamkin   
Sunday, 20 January 2008

Directed by: Ti West
Written by: Ti West
Produced by: Susan Leber
Cinematography by: Eric Robbins
Editing by: Ti West
Special Effects by: Daniel Mazikowski, Mary Schmidt
Music by: Jeff Grace
Cast: Wil Horneff, Sean Reid, Vanessa Horneff, Karl Jacob, Tom Noonan, Barbara Wilhide, Richard Little
Year: 2005
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 80 Minutes

Distributor: Scare Flix
Official Website:

Terror Awaits”

The Roost” is a wonderful Super 16-mm throwback to the 1970s horror so many of us love and miss.  The first feature film for director Ti West, with Glass Eye Pix’s Larry Fessenden serving as executive producer (as well as playing the tow-truck driver in the film), if I hadn’t known this was a brand new release, I would have sworn I really was watching an old 70s horror movie.  Set on Halloween, the film opens in black and white with Tom Noonan, who many will remember as “The Tooth Fairy” in “Manhunter”, as the host of a late night horror movie show, “Frightmare Theater”.  The twist is that “The Roost” is the film we viewers are going to be seeing.

The film opens with four friends on their way late on Halloween night to another friend’s wedding.  Elliot (Wil Horneff, “The Shining”[1997], “Ghost in the Machine”) and his sister Allison (played by real-life sister Vanessa Horneff), along with Brian (Sean Reid, Ti West’s “The Wicked”) and Trevor (Karl Jacob, “In Justice”) are driving the back roads of rural Delaware when they have an accident near a bridge and their car is stuck.  The only element introduced that makes you realize this is NOT a 1970s film is the characters trying to reach someone on a cell phone but thankfully that attempt doesn’t occur too often.  Plus, actor Sean Reid looks as though he stepped right out of a 1975 high school yearbook with his long, floppy hair.  Knowing they have to start hoofing it to find help, the four set off down the road and eventually come across a farm.  Earlier in the film, we are introduced to the elderly couple who live here, May (Barbara Wilhide) and her husband Elvin (Richard Little).  They are preparing to leave to visit relatives but May makes the fatal error of asking Elvin to make sure the barn is locked up.  It is not clear why May and Elvin don’t know what is IN the barn but apparently they didn’t.

Our four characters reach the house and unsuccessfully try to rouse someone to help them, thinking there must be someone home as the porch is still lit and there is a truck in the driveway.  Elliot and Trevor decide to check things out, leaving Allison and Brian to wait on the porch.  At this point, all bets are off as Elliot and Trevor manage to flag down a cop who brings them back to the house.  People begin disappearing, there is an attack by a flock of bats, which drives folks into the creepy barn, and from there on, the scares start multiplying.  An interesting note is that the barn used in “The Roost” is the same one used by Alfred Hitchcock in his film, “Marnie” and at times, Jeff Grace’s score reminded me of both the screeching violins of Bernard Herrmann’s score for “Psycho” and the menacing cues from Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead”.  The sound design by Graham Reznick also reminded me somewhat of “Evil Dead” but there were other spooky effects that came into play as well.  One clever element in the film was the playing of a horror radio show which was heard every time a vehicle was on screen – you might have to turn up the volume to hear it but it’s a fun little extra.  And that’s director Ti West voicing “The Professor” on the show.

The cinematography by Eric Robbins is perfect for this film as it has a “washed-out” yellowish hue to it that makes it look like the old film it’s pretending to be.  The barn is scary as hell with all it levels and doorways and hiding places and the production design by David Bell only heightens the sense of menace.  The special digital effects by Quiet Man are great – I certainly didn’t see “bat wrangler” in the credits.

There are quite a few scares in the movie and some gore but it’s more the atmosphere of foreboding and fright along with a full moon, Halloween, zombies, vampire bats, thunder and lightning and just not really knowing where this scary ride is taking you that make “The Roost” a must-see.

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