‘Secrets in the Walls’ only worth watching for Jeri Ryan

'Secrets in the Walls'
Jeri Ryan in 'Secrets in the Walls'
Jeri Ryan in ‘Secrets in the Walls’

[rating=2]Starring: Jeri Ryan, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Kay Panabaker, Peyton List
Director(s): Christopher Leitch
Writer(s): William Penick, Chris Sey

A family moves into a new home, which seems like an improvement from where they last lived. It doesn’t take too long after that for someone, most likely one of the children, to realize there are things going bump in the night. The protagonist character is skeptical but decides to do some digging and discovers that these strange events have some connection to a cold case crime from long ago. Then it’s up to our hero, possibly with the assistance of someone who dabbles in the supernatural, to set the wrongs of the past right and make the home a happy place again.

That’s the basic layout for your typical haunted house movie, isn’t it? And it’s how one would describe Secrets in the Walls to a T. Airing last year on Lifetime and now on DVD, this movie doesn’t reinvent the wheel or push the envelope. It does however have some solid acting work from its stars.

Rachel Easton (Jeri Ryan) manages to land a cushy job at a doctor’s office not very close to her cramped apartment, so it makes sense for her to move somewhere nearby. She finds a good deal on a house and moves in with her two daughters: teenager Lizzie (Kay Panabaker) and the younger Molly (Peyton List). The latter shows some signs of psychic ability, like being able to predict when a phone is about to ring. So of course, she’s the one who first senses something is amiss. After a while, the other two begin to suspect things too. Rachel takes initiative by going through some old newspaper articles and talking to her co-worker friend Belle (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), an expert in the paranormal.

Kay Panabaker in 'Secrets in the Walls'
Kay Panabaker in ‘Secrets in the Walls’

To its credit, the movie does try to throw in a surprise plot twist at the end. The event where the movie could have ended is but a lead up to what will provide the real struggle. And thank goodness for that, since it’s in the final act that there’s the most tension and excitement. Before that we know weird stuff is going down, but it doesn’t really seem all that threatening, like the family is in any legitimate danger. That all said however, this twist is added in a tacked-on kind of way. There was no reason why any hint of it could not have been given earlier on.

But the actresses are impressive. I’m surprised that Ryan hasn’t had more leading roles instead of being confined to supporting characters (even if they are pretty memorable like Seven of Nine). In this part she exudes much charm and warmth but also strength and determination. She carries the movie well and ought to be given more chances in the lead. Also standing out well are Panabaker and List, who with Ryan form a totally believable family.

There are no extras aside from two trailers that play before the menu comes up.

An exceptional haunted house movie is not to be found here. But what is present is a decent one that will satisfy fans of Ryan. Maybe the genre in general is just getting tired out. How about some other buildings get haunted for a change, like a barbershop or used car dealership?

Rated: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 hr., 29 mins.

And Palladino

And Palladino is a graduate of Connecticut College with a BA in film studies. He has been writing about films since the age of 14 when he first started contributing to the Home News Tribune newspaper in New Jersey. You may have seen him buying drugs on Person of Interest or in The Wolf of Wall Street around the office, and will be in the upcoming films Noah and A Little Game. He has also worked on the documentary for the band Leftover Crack, and wrote the short story e-book Ernie's Journey, which can be downloaded for free from the iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or smashwords.com.

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