They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It might be, but if you’re attempting to imitate something great and you don’t have the chops to match it, then you come across as a very poor imitation indeed. Sadly, that’s the case with writer-director Christopher Wells’ The Luring. Wells’ film positions itself as a Stephen King-style horror, riffing on many of the great author’s books and their various screen adaptations. Unfortunately Wells has delivered a film which just comes across like Stephen King bingo (a childhood trauma here, a creepy clown there etc)
Garret (Rick Irwin) returns to his family holiday home with his girlfriend Claire (Michaela Sprague) in an attempt to uncover hidden memories after something unspeakable led him to being institutionalised as a child. Whilst in town he meets a mysterious man (Daniel Marin Berkley) who distills twisted wisdom and a curious woman (Molly Fahey) with a penchant for rhymes. Together, they start to turn Garret’s personality towards the darkness.
I can only picture Christopher Wells as he sat down to write The Luring, glancing at the bookshelves holding his favourite Stephen King novels. He sees The Shining, Salem’s Lot, It, Carrie, Bag Of Bones and Pet Sematary and his mind conjures imagines of their most iconic moments. He’s helped in this task by the fact that he also owns the film and television adaptions of these tales on DVD. He begins to type and a week or two later Wells has finished his script, which is a loving homage to his literary hero. I know, I know – I’m being hard on Wells who was just attempting to deliver a low budget horror film. I get it, but any film which features a red balloon and a creepy clown alongside a man slowly spiralling towards insanity is going to draw unfavourable to the greatest horror novelist of the last 100 years.
The performances in The Luring are perfunctory at best and the script is lacklustre and flimsy. The so-called mystery at the centre of it all is obvious and unoriginal. There’s nothing original or new here. Rick Irwin’s Garret is immensely unlikeable and the rest of the characters fail to register on any level. Don’t even get me started on Molly Fahey’s rhyme-speaking vamp, who comes across a laughable and amateur. In fairness, Michaela Sprague isn’t bad as Garret’s long-suffering better half.
The Luring is a horror film without frights, a chiller without chills and a piece of entertainment which fails to entertain. The best (and only) way to enjoy it is by trying to spot the the Stephen King riffs.