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Wait Till Helen Comes (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 20, 2020

Wait Till Helen Comes


Starring Sophie Nélisse, Isabelle Nélisse, Liam Dickinson, Maria Bello, Callum Keith Rennie, Frank Adamson, Mary Downing Hahn, Abigail Pniowsky, John B. Lowe, Darren Felbel, Jerni Stuart, Emily Parker, Kally Berard, Tom Young, Susan Kelso, Robin Ruel, Arne MacPherson, Ethan Chernick, Cassandra Tusa and Logan Creran.

Screenplay by Victoria Sanchez Mandryk.

Directed by Dominic James.

Distributed by TriCoast Entertainment.  87 minutes.  Not Rated.

In my mind, ghost stories are nearly impossible to beat as far as horror films go.  Slasher films, monster films, I can take or leave those, but a truly spooky haunting can give me chills like nothing else.

Wait Till Helen Comes, is based upon and named after the 1986 young adult ghost novel of the same name by Mary Downing Hahn.  (Though this Canadian production seems to be having a little trouble on committing to a movie title; it has also been shown as Little Girl’s Secret and the screener I watched had the additional alternate title One Dead Ghost.)  It has an interesting conundrum – a haunting film that is targeted towards young teens – so that it should be scary, but not too scary.

Honestly, though it doesn’t have that many really graphic scares, Wait Till Helen Comes is pretty dark for young teens.

Also, sad to say, the ghost story is a bit muddled.  But it does have some good parts that make it worth a viewing.

The story is pretty simple.  A newly blended family – mother Jean (Maria Bello) and her teen daughter Molly (Sophie Nélisse of The Book Thief), son Michael (Liam Dickinson), her new husband Dave (Callum Keith Rennie) and his niece Heather (played by Sophie’s real-life sister Isabelle Nélisse, though they are not supposed to be blood relatives in the film) – move into a remote deserted old church so that Dave can have some privacy to finish a book.

From the very beginning, the cracks start to show.  Dave is becoming obsessive about his book, which is not going well, and snaps out at the family.  Jean is also on edge, trying to spend time keeping house and painting, but upset by all the drama going on around her.  Molly is going through typical teen girl angst, missing her friends home in Baltimore, hating the new place, feeling misunderstood, and particularly not liking the fact that she seems to have been assigned to care for Heather.  Heather is a quiet and damaged girl, having spent a few years in a boarding school after having survived the tragic circumstances which killed her parents.  She barely talks and seems angry at everything.  Only Michael seems relatively happy at the new home.

Heather starts going into the woods, a nearby graveyard, and the ruins of a burned-down home nearby.  She claims she has met a girl named Helen in the woods, who has become her new best friend.  Everyone else assumes Helen is imaginary, but Molly has seen Heather with a gauzy-looking white figure.  Molly starts investigating the history of the neighborhood, trying to figure out who the mysterious spirit is.  The closer she gets, the more that Helen tries to scare her away.

It turns out to be a tragic (and somewhat confusing) story about family discord, fire, restless souls, drowning, lost bodies and tragic accidents.  It doesn’t all make sense, but Wait Till Helen Comes does spin an eerie, moody sense of dread.

Wait Till Helen Comes is far from the best ghost story you’re ever going to see, but it’s got some chills that are worth seeing.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: March 17, 2017.

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