Witchboard (1987)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - Dec 31, 1986 (USA)  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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This minor hit from 1986 is a modest but effective little horror item. Though it is not the most original or dynamic movie of its type, Witchboard succeeds on its own terms because it concentrates on craftsmanship. Writer/director Kevin Tenney wisely avoids letting the body count or supernatural premise get out of hand, instead concentrating on the film's central trio of characters and giving the characterizations plenty of time to develop while advancing the plot at a reasonable pace. The performances aren't exceptional but fit this kind of fare: Todd Allen's work is a little rough-edged, but his commitment to the role is winning; Stephen Gibson gets a bit overly melodramatic in parts, but it seems strangely fitting for his eccentric character; and Tawny Kitaen delivers a solid performance in a role that requires her to spend a lot of time being scared. It's also worth noting that Kathleen Wilhoite turns in some scene-stealing work in a bit as a wacked-out psychic medium. Behind the camera, Kevin Tenney shows a disciplined sense of style, building several slow-burn suspense sequences with skill and making effective use of cranes and Steadicam work to enhance the film's visual gloss. The end result isn't a genre classic, but it is a sturdy, likable horror film likely to please genre fans in the mood for something subtle.