This article was originally published on Film Threat (September 11, 2018).
The Keeping Hours is a hauntingly beautiful film that leaves a lasting impression. Nearly ten years after his untimely and accidental death, young Jacob’s (Sander Thomas) ghost brings his divorced parents back together by mysteriously appearing in their old family home. Mark (Lee Pace) and Elizabeth’s (Carrie Coon) reunion gives them a second chance at the happiness they once shared and regrettably lost with their son’s passing. Their wounded hearts begin to slowly heal with each cherished day they get to spend together with Jacob. However, one troubling question threatens their bliss: Why is Jacob back?
The magic of this movie is the way it transcends your stereotypical ghost story, while still providing all of the thrills and chills you expect to experience. Usually, a spirit lingers because of some personal unfinished business. Oftentimes, the restless entity is angry and seeks revenge. In this case, Jacob is still a sweet, innocent, and playful boy. He wants the train set he was promised years ago, he expects to be lulled to sleep with bedtime stories, and he even gets jealous when Mark looks after the boy next door as a favor to their friendly neighbor (Amy Smart). Yet, young Jacob surprisingly knows things and makes unsuspectingly profound proclamations about his parents.
“…young Jacob’s ghost brings his divorced parents back together by mysteriously appearing in their old family home.”
The juxtaposition of these paradoxical characteristics keeps viewers anxiously guessing throughout the film. His sage observations prompt his parents to reexamine their lives. For years they’ve blamed each other and themselves for his death. Instead of mourning him together, their grief tore them apart and led them down different paths. Jacob’s sudden presence reawakens feelings they had lost and facilitates overdue conversations.
Lee Pace is sublime in this role. Your heart breaks for him. We see Mark anguishing in the depths of darkest despair and basking in the radiant light of hope. We are on this remarkable journey with him as he reaches out to his estranged wife and asks her to have faith in the unimaginable. Carrie Coon’s portrayal genuinely captures the disbelief and disappointment one would feel towards a troubled, self-destructive and withdrawn spouse. Sander Thomas is undeniably adorable and will steal your heart as Jacob. Karen Moncrieff’s direction delivers an engaging character study, while still providing goosebumps throughout the gripping narrative.
“…an intensely moving love story about family, loss, forgiveness, closure, and hope.”
Rebecca Sonnenshine has penned an intensely moving love story about family, loss, forgiveness, closure, and hope. This brilliant cast quickly captures the audience’s attention. The unsettling suspense keeps viewers on the edge of their seats as they try to decipher the purpose of Jacob’s visit. We become emotionally invested in this family’s tragic tale and are relieved to learn the answers to our nagging questions.
Bottom line: The Keeping Hours stirs your soul and should not be missed.
The Keeping Hours (2018) Directed by Karen Moncrieff. Written by Rebecca Sonnenshine. Starring Carrie Coon, Lee Pace, Amy Smart, Sander Thomas, Ana Ortiz, and Julian LaTourelle.
10 out of 10 stars