With “Widow’s Point”, Lamberson crafts a satisfying journey of one man’s slippage into madness as well as the dark history of a haunted lighthouse.
Adapted from the book by Billy and Richard Chizmar, Widow’s Point is a ghost story, a mystery, a period piece, and a Lovecraftian tale of terror all in one.
Author Thomas Livingston (Craig Sheffer) is in desperate need of a bestseller. He is going through a divorce and, “divorces are expensive. I need the money,” he says to his agent. To get the money he needs, Livingston decides to return to his supernatural, bestselling glory days. He travels to the coastal town of Harper’s Cove to begin research on a haunted lighthouse called Widow’s Point, one of the most haunted places in America.
The lighthouse is closed off, and Thomas is the first person to stay there in over 30 years.
His agent, his publicist, Rosa (KateLynn Newberry), and Thomas are all excited about the possibilities of the project, namely the money it can make. Only Parker (Michael Thurber, always playfully nutty), the lighthouse groundskeeper, thinks staying at the lighthouse is a bad idea. He serves as the harbinger and warns the three outsiders they’re not taking the history of the place seriously. Of course, Parker’s warning gets shrugged off.
All of the naiveté driven by money is a sure recipe for disaster, something Thomas is surely going to find out as the film progresses.
As Thomas conducts his research, the film takes us through stories from the lighthouse’s past via flashbacks. This is a smart way for the film to show the action and not just talk about it, eliminating lengthy, talky scenes of exposition. One flashback is a film production of a movie called Rosemary’s Spirit that focuses on the lead actress and how she succumbs to the curse of the lighthouse.
Another shows a card game between a former lightkeeper named Patrick Collins (Paul McGinnis) and some friends, one of whom is driven mad by the lighthouse. This flashback expands throughout the film, focusing on the lightkeeper’s family and their connection to the curse (special mention to Lamberson’s own daughter, Kaelin Lamberson, who does a great job in this storyline as Delaney Collins).
There are a couple others, and all of these stories have two things in common: the appearance of a mysterious veiled bride whispering, “and it shall come, and it shall come,” and a horrifying, bloody conclusion involving murder and suicide.
To fully immerse himself in the experience, Thomas locks himself upstairs with the light for the weekend, “the heart of the lighthouse,” as he puts it, in the same room where Patrick Collins had his fateful card game all those years ago. Rosa and Thomas are looking to drum up publicity for his new book, so they decide to film Thomas’s stay in the lightkeeper’s quarters.
Locked in the lighthouse and becoming intimately acquainted with several objects from past victims, the spirits of the lighthouse begin seeping into Thomas’s mind, disrupting his sleep and eventually effecting his sanity.
Willow Anwar stars as the bride, Rebecca, who haunts the lighthouse and spreads her deadly curse to those who stay there.
Anwar (the daughter of Sheffer and actress Gabrielle Anwar), does so much with simply her appearance. The depth of pain on her face and the relentless pursuit in her eyes is phenomenally portrayed by the actress. She manages to give her character and the curse she bears a tragic and scary history in a limited, virtually silent role.
Willow made her acting debut starring alongside her mom in 1999’s Kimberly at age 6, and this is only her second feature film. Here’s hoping audiences can see more of her in future projects.
However, what makes Widow’s Point work as well as it does is Craig Sheffer’s performance as Thomas.
In what is largely a one man show, Sheffer’s strong ability to come across as a down-on-his-luck average guy, and the connection this makes with the audience, is vital to the film’s success.
We the viewer are on his side from the start. As the lighthouse and its curse plunge Thomas deeper and deeper into madness, there’s a sequence that shows him losing his mind, allowing the lighthouse to take him over. Sheffer really throws himself into the moment. He wails, flails, yells at the lighthouse, talks to himself in different voices, weeps, shakes, and claws at his own face. It’s hilarious and tragic, and to think Sheffer performed the sequence only a couple days into filming really shows the dedication the actor has for each role.
Mesmerizing, fun, and exhausting to watch, Sheffer’s performance is highly impressive.
With a haunting, Gothic score accompanying the story, Director Greg Lamberson balances this genre mash-up extremely well. Along the way, keep an eye and ear out for fun references to such films as The Changeling, The Shining, Rebecca, and Rosemary’s Baby.
Adding to the enjoyment of Widow’s Point is a wallop of an ending, an unforeseen and wild conclusion that ends the film on a high point — one that will make you want to watch it again.
Widow’s Point is available on DVD and digital September 1st.