* * * HAUNTING SARAH (Lifetime Oct 3rd, 2005)     
    Warning, possible spoilers below...

    When we were contacted by Lifetime (Television for Women) to review a horror movie, we did a double take and then thought...hmmm, this might be interesting.  We know what we get from the Scifi Channel, from the major players, but wouldn't it be fun to take a new perspective on things.  So we jumped at the chance.

    Haunting Sarah is a touching story about twin mother's.  One looses her son.  The other's daughter gets possessed by that son in a power play to get reincarnated?  Confused?  Just think of it as the Parent Trap meets the X-files and you are on your way.
    The made for TV movie runs slowly, giving just enough information to keep you interested.  But surprisingly you keep watching, because you have to know if the twin mother's, Erica and Heather Rose (both played by Kim Raver), are going to fall into darkness or find their way out.  This one isn't about special effects and really isn't about the paranormal at all.  It's about the interaction between sisters and the emotions generated when children are lost in extrordinary ways.  Anyone who has young children can relate to the horrible possibilities that are presented.

    The movie does have its problems.  For one, every male character is portrayed as uncaring.  The husbands don't give a hoot, seem to be blind to the world around them, and in fact we only hear from one during the first few minutes of the film.  We have to wonder why the writer went this route, because playing off the husbands more would have been interesting.  We don't think it's chance the "evil" force in Haunting Sarah is also male.  The score is pretty decent fair, although there is a 10 minute stretch in which canned Exorcist music is played.  When you hear Exorcist music, there better be a big payoff.  And there isn't.  The distracting music should have been cut, or scaled back.   In a related tone, there is one scene towards the end in which Sarah flies in the air about 20 feet.  This is the only instance in which reality leaves the movie and it also should have hit the editing room floor, because this is otherwise a very possible story based on things that could actually happen, if possession and reincarnation were real.

    One of our favorite parts of this film, by far, was the camera work.  Throughout the film, you feel as if you are looking in through the walls.  There are hundreds of intensional doly shots where the crew stays right on the edge of the set, panning and moving in geometric alignment to the room itself.  It gives the impression that you, the viewer, are looking in through the house rather than standing inside it, or are actually the house itself.  And we don't think this was unintensional.  Later in the story a doll house comes into play and the theme of looking in through walls is revisited.  It adds ambiance.  Applause.
    The cast and acting are above par for basic cable.  The young Sarah (played by Niamh Wilson), born with haunting eyes, never strays from character and carried the cast.  Kim Raver, who plays the twin mothers does a great job of showing emotion although we have to scoff at several instances when it was incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to tell the twins apart.  Different hair styles aside (which are ambandoned from time to time), there should have been more obvious references for the viewers to avoid confision.   Disney perfected this with its Parent Trap movies, which we talked of earlier.  In those, each twin had a different accent.  A tool like that would have helped here.  

    Apart from its fallings, Haunting Sarah doesn't loose your interest and you will come out feeling satisfied.  Lifetime's launch into the supernatural looks to be a success and we hope we see more from them in the future.

     (-William J Piniarski-)

    | copyright, 2005 |