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The Headmistress (2023) Review

Mara (Katherine Bellantone, Zombie, He Who Lives in Hidden Lakes) is a teacher. She’s also deep in debt, which is why she’s selling the lakefront property she just inherited. Rather than using an agent, she’s taking a group of potential buyers to look at the property, which she’s never been to, herself. The first sign of trouble comes when they find a bridge closed and have to proceed on foot.

Eventually, Mara, cute couple Pete (Tom Dacey Carr, Triple D Revenge, Who Invited Them) and Dex (Hunter O’Harrow, I Need You Dead!, Women), Ani (Ayden Skye, All the Lord’s Men, Lower East Asides), Donovan (Thomas McCarthy, Irrational Fear, Creep Van), and Nikki (DeChantel Kosmatka, Hangry Hangry, Eat at Joe’s) arrive at the property. As they approach it, Mara notices a figure in the window.

That, plus the fact it was left to her by the father she never knew, should be reason enough to wait outside. But that wouldn’t make for much of a movie, would it?

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Writer Christopher A. Micklos and co-director Jay Sapiro, the team that gave us The Nursery, had me asking questions within The Headmistress’ first few minutes. Why isn’t Mara letting a professional handle the sale, especially as she’s broke and had to fly to the location? And she says she doesn’t know much about the property because she never knew her father. Why wouldn’t she research it to help her make the sale? Several of the group seem to know more about it than she does, including the fact that it’s haunted.

Thankfully, they quickly get everyone inside and wandering around the dark corridors, seeing figures out of the corners of their eyes and hearing voices in the supposedly empty building. It’s all fairly predictable, inanimate objects that move by themselves, mysterious stains that look like blood, and eventually the ghosts themselves. But it is staged well and delivers a few jumps.

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The Headmistress’ characters are fairly familiar as well, the obnoxious “Alpha Male” who is homophobic, misogynistic, and thinks he’s the smartest man in the world, the ones that want to open a haunted inn, the female entrepreneur who feels she has to try harder to prove herself, etc. Their reactions once night falls and the spirits come out are equally predictable.

The Headmistress does manage to work up a nasty backstory for its ghosts, and several of them are creepy looking despite the film’s obviously low budget and limited effects. The film was shot in the abandoned Villa St. Joseph convent, which while not as inherently creepy looking as you might suspect does at least look unused and has a chapel that manages to look quite sinister in the final act.

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For the most part, The Headmistress is a well-made but very predictable film. Unfortunately, it really blows it at the end. It ends just as you expect, and takes possibly the least exciting route to get there. I know money was tight, but you don’t cheap out on the film’s payoff. That should be the most important part of the film, not something you just half-ass.

If you just want something that’ll keep you watching and make you jump a few times, The Headmistress should fit the bill. It does a lot with a small budget and has its moments, just don’t expect it to do anything you haven’t seen before or will feel a need to see again.

Indican Pictures will release The Headmistress on DVD as well as VOD and Digital Platforms on March 21st. You can check their website or the film’s Facebook page for more information. If you want more films like this, FilmTagger can suggest a few titles.

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