This odd film is neither fun-house scary enough for kids nor psychologically sharp enough for adults. A sort of "After School Special Tales From The Crypt," SECRETS IN THE ATTIC would best be reserved for the ghost story portion of a pajama party.
Young Amy (Amanda Roese) resents the burden of caring for her retarded sister LouAnn (Rebekah Baker), so she's thrilled by her Aunt Claire's (Lindsay Jackson) invitation to come visit her at her childhood home, into which she's recently moved so she can prepare the property for sale. LouAnn
pleads with her to stay and her demanding mother (Lissa Reynolds) disapproves, but Amy packs her bags and goes anyway. The brittle, childless Claire at first welcomes Amy's company, but tensions soon mount. Amy's concern about leaving LouAnn parallel Claire's life-long guilt over the murder of her
grandparents in this house 30 years ago, and Amy begins to fear the house is haunted. Claire shows Amy a hand-made doll house which is an exact replica of the house in which they're staying. Later, she becomes angry when tiny replicas of her murdered grandparents are found in the attic, posed
exactly as the real bodies were found. Although Amy insists the dolls move around by themselves, she admits having researched the double homicide at the library with her girlfriend Ellen. Amy is further peeved when, on her birthday, her mother has to take a sudden trip and returns LouAnn to Amy's
custody. But during Amy's birthday party, LouAnn charms the guests and cracks the decades-old mystery by bravely accompanying Amy to the attic. Working on clues given by the grandma doll, Claire is shattered to realize that a handyman (Bob Chaffee) killed her grandparents, not her ne'er-do-well
boyfriend (J.J. Reardon), as she had feared. Finally, Claire is able to absolve herself of blame. Recognizing LouAnn's unique traits as well as her limitations, Amy returns happily to her family hearth; the dolls finally find peace.
SECRETS IN THE ATTIC is rather limited in its appeal. The film works best as a character study, based on the premise that true ghosts are soul-scarring emotions like guilt, and that those emotions can manifest themselves physically. It does a better-than-average job of exploring the psychology
of an adolescent girl, and touches on issues of intrafamilial resentment and unrealistically high parental expectations that most children's films aren't bold enough to confront. In the movie's creepiest moments, the little dolls whimper piteously and scramble about in miniature panic. If this
eeriness had made it downstairs to the film's scenes of familial discord and generic sleuthing, SECRETS IN THE ATTIC might have been genuinely successful.
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: PG
- Review: This odd film is neither fun-house scary enough for kids nor psychologically sharp enough for adults. A sort of "After School Special Tales From The Crypt," SECRETS IN THE ATTIC would best be reserved for the ghost story portion of a pajama party. Young… (more)