An Average Movie-Goer’s Review
Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post
I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.
Today we’re looking at 2021’s 616 Wilford Lane
A widower and his two daughters move into a new home unaware of its dark past and the evil that may already reside in it.
Is 616 Wilford Lane Scary?
616 Wilford Lane has barely any jump scares, doesn’t do a good job of creating tension, and while it has a few seconds of some creepy scenes, it doesn’t try a whole lot to scare you. There’s no way you leave this film scared of anything unless you like to celebrate with drinks you didn’t pour yourself. That’ll make sense at the end of the movie.
616 Wilford Lane Full Plot Summary:
The film opens with the text:
Followed by “The sign of the Best is 616” and if that number sounds familiar to you it’s because that’s in the title of the movie. Also while it is true a piece of papyrus from the Book of Revelations dated from the 3 century was found and it referred to 616 as being the number of the beast, it didn’t disprove the 666 number. Maybe the beast has several numbers.
We open on 616 Wilford Lane, a mansion in Auburn, California in the dead of night. Cutting to the camera feeds we see the cabinet doors in the kitchen open and close on their own as a young man in bedroom 2 wakes up.
The man, appearing to be in a trance, stands in his room for… I actually don’t know how long because the time on the security camera is randomly jumping around. At 1:28 am it shows him getting up from bed but when we cut back to him a few seconds later it’s 1:24 am and he’s standing, that’s a continuity error.
The man walks into a room, grabs a shotgun out of a closet, and proceeds to shoot and kill his parents in the master bedroom.
In another bedroom, a young girl, presumably his sister, hears the gunshots and hides in a closet. The man enters the room, immediately knows where she is, and kills her as well before killing himself.
Six months later we cut to our main character, Jim (played by John Littlefield) as he says goodbye to his wife, Robin (played by Nadine Stenovitch) who is dying of cancer. He next calls in his two daughters Randy (played by Jessica Chancellor) and the younger Staci (played by Alyson Gorske) to also say their final goodbyes.
At Robin’s funeral, we see Staci is taking the death especially hard and Jim sucks at giving pep talks. More importantly, we learn the family is moving and I will be shocked if it’s anywhere but 616 Wilford Lane.
We cut to Auburn where real estate agent Austyn (played by Jasmine Waltz) meets with Jim and offers to show him some houses. The last house on the list is 616 Wilford Lane which Jim states is out of his $250K price range.
But Austyn isn’t trying to sell a murder house for market prices and says the $10 million house can be sold for $2.5 million and all he has to do is put 10% down. She also doesn’t mention the murder part.
Unsurprisingly a short time later, the family moves into the house and we see that tensions between Staci and Jim are still high. As Jim has a drink by the door facing the pool, a bird flies into it and dies which is never a good sign.
The family gets a visit from the neighbors David and Joan Gleeson (played by Eric and Eliza Roberts) who welcome them to the neighborhood and drop off some wine. In a move that doesn’t seem to raise red flags with anyone, the Gleesons refuse to enter the home. Interestingly it appears Jim was told the house has been on the market for over a year and the Gleesons don’t correct him.
That night as Randy dances in her room in her underwear, Staci wakes up and stares at her own bedroom door in a trance. Downstairs, Jim falls asleep on the couch and doesn’t notice the cabinets behind him opening and closing while a bottle of alcohol slowly slides across the counter.
Randy spots someone outside and screams as the bottle on the counter shatters on the ground. While Staci, still in a trance, lays back down in bed, Jim runs to Randy and then outside to find who was peeping into her window but doesn’t see anyone.
A short time later Staci comforts Randy on the couch while Jim cleans the mess from the bottle and says Randy’s scream knocked the bottle off the counter… what. Outside the sheriff (played by Don Scribner) pulls up to the house and we learn he was the sheriff that responded to the murders 6 months earlier.
Jim greets the Sheriff and invites him in but the Sheriff refuses and that’s totally not weird. After Randy tells the sheriff that she only saw a shadow and is unsure what the peeper looked like, Jim suggests that he maybe ran into the Gleeson’s backyard. The Sheriff reveals David Gleeson is actually the Mayor and refuses to bother them in the middle of the night.
The Sheriff suggests it was actually a coyote that Randy mistook for a person and suggests Jim get a rifle. Jim says he does have a rifle, which is brand new information, but says he doesn’t intend to ever use it.
Before the sheriff leaves, Staci gives him a flash drive with all of the security footage from inside the house to review. So Staci has too much faith in the police.
The next day while the family explores the town, Jim bumps into David who is already aware of the sheriff’s visit. David downplays the situation, adding that Jim should avoid calling the police so as not to upset the neighbors and possibly affect property value. He then invites Jim to dinner that night with him and a bunch of friends.
Meanwhile Staci and Randy head to a coffee shop and are hit on by Matt (played by Jon Herrmann), the town’s star quarterback, and his friend, Miles (played by Stevonte Hart). It’s a scene that feels like it was shoehorned in at the last minute when someone realized they forgot to introduce these characters so they shot a quick 30-second meeting.
That night Jim places his rifle in a cabinet that is conveniently the same cabinet the killer from the start of the movie grabbed his rifle from and I’m sure that’s fine. As he leaves for dinner, we learn that Randy is also leaving to go on a date with Matt. See, this is why they had to introduce him so suddenly in that last scene.
With the two gone, this leaves Staci home alone… DUN DUN DUNN. A few hours later, while Staci watches television in the living room, we see the door to her room open and close on its own. Assuming it’s her father she goes to investigate and here’s a tip; if you’re home alone a few feet from the front door AND you didn’t hear someone come through the front door, they’re definitely not upstairs.
Staci learns that tip the hard way when she sees her bedroom door open and slam close on its own. Running downstairs, she bumps into Randy and Matt who are just entering the house and she alerts them that someone is in her room. The moment Matt hears this he bolts out of the house without saying a word and runs to his car.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t leave and is actually running to the car to grab a bat but for a moment I laughed thinking he was outta there. Matt searches the room while Randy tries to call Jim but he’s a little busy getting it on with Austyn who was at the dinner.
After clearing the house, Matt tells Staci it must have been the wind which is everyone’s excuse when they lose at ghost hide-and-seek. Staci pulls up the camera footage but Matt and now Randy conclude it was the wind. Damn Randy, you just met the guy and you already sharpened a knife to stab it into your own sister?
Later Jim remembers he has daughters and returns home to find Randy reviewing the footage. After showing him the footage, Jim also concludes it was the wind and questions where Staci is to which Randy replies she’s upstairs sleeping. Does Randy ask why her father ignored their multiple calls and showed up at home after midnight? Nah, she took Matt’s side, she knows what’s up.
We cut to the camera footage in Staci’s room as she wakes up in a trance and stands in the hallway.
Jim approaches Staci and, in a jumpscare, she starts screaming and collapses onto the ground. The next morning the two review the footage and Jim assumes she was sleepwalking. He also puts a knife next to the one Randy left in Staci’s back and tells her the door slamming was a draft.
Jim implies Staci is being affected by her mother’s death which leads to an argument about the house possibly being haunted. I think that’s what the argument is about because Jim distractingly cannot stop waving his hands around the entire time. It’s like he was trying to use some kind of loud sign language to send us a secret message.
Angered by Jim, Staci leaves with Randy to go hang out with Miles and Matt at the latter’s home. There, Miles brings up that he heard Staci and Randy’s house might be haunted. Staci asks where he heard that completely forgetting that Miles is attached to Matt’s hip.
Miles starts telling the girls about an incident a few years back about a guy named Cody but Matt stops him. It’s implied Cody is the killer from the start of the movie but it’s weird that Miles says it was “a few years back” when we know it was six months ago. When pressed on the story, Matt says it has nothing to do with their house and it was just some stupid shit a kid did in the neighborhood last year.
While I’m interested in finding out why people are downplaying/covering up the incident, I’m more interested in why no one, not even the security cameras, can get the timeline right.
After the girls return home, Staci and Jim appear to have put the argument behind them and make some popcorn. Meanwhile, we see Randy in the shower but also the shadow of a woman slowly approaching the shower door. This amounts to nothing as we cut to a short time later and we see Randy in bed.
At 1 am (the security cameras got it right this time) the cabinet doors in the kitchen start opening and closing on their own as we see Staci wake up. In a trance, Staci walks over to the cabinet in the study where Jim has left his rifle and just stands there staring at it. Upstairs, Randy’s door opens on its own as her covers are pulled off the bed.
Randy wakes up confused because sheets aren’t supposed to move on their own, and screams when her door slams shut. Jim runs into the room and the two run into Staci’s room discovering her missing. Randy eventually finds Staci in the study who starts screaming as Randy grabs her.
The next day Jim shows the Sheriff the footage and he responds with “That’s peculiar”, no shit sheriff. Jim implies the house is haunted causing the sheriff to give a response that I can’t help but respect when he basically says “What do you expect me to do about that?”
Jim asks the Sheriff about the Cody incident but the Sheriff says he’s never heard of a Cody before. Since Staci and Randy never heard the full story, Jim can’t give any more details except that it was something really bad that happened in the neighborhood. The sheriff once again dismisses this and tells Jim he’s been the sheriff for 25 years, nothing bigger than drunken teenagers has ever happened.
Cut to Staci, Randy, Matt, and Miles all hanging out by the pool when an exasperated Staci says she can’t find anything online about ghosts or an incident happening in their neighborhood. Kudos to the writers for adding that line because I was a few paragraphs away from making a snarky comment about how no one is thinking of using the internet.
Staci once again asks Matt and Miles about the Cody story but Matt refuses to say anything. Randy then implies she’ll reward him with sex if he tells and Matt spills the beans without hesitation. We learn the killer from the start of the movie was in fact Cody and the town has covered it up as it would hurt property value, tourism, and force people to rethink gun ownership.
Later as Matt gets his reward upstairs, Miles and Staci make out near the pool table downstairs and don’t notice a shadow walk by the end of the hallway.
As Miles kisses Staci he notices the white pool ball (cue ball) move on its own and fall into the corner pocket. Miles jumps back in shock causing Staci to ask what’s wrong but instead of saying he just witnessed a foul and someone should be losing points, he just goes back to kissing her.
Upstairs Matt and Randy have sex but stop when they hear the dresser move on its own. The door slams on its own and Matt immediately suspects Miles despite them literally seeing, with their own eyes, things moving on their own. Downstairs Matt confronts a confused Miles and then… we just cut to later.
The four are in the living room discussing the possibility of ghosts when Jim arrives. The four teens talk over Jim’s hands claiming the house is haunted and we just cut to later… again. In the kitchen with only Randy, Staci, and Jim (I guess Miles and Matt just went home?), Staci tells Jim about Cody’s murders and Jim denies it could have happened in the house.
When questioned why he believes that, Jim tells the girls that Austyn would have legally had to disclose that information before selling the house.
That night while Jim watches movies in the living room, he notices the cabinet in the kitchen open on its own. After closing it, he turns around and in a jump scare, Staci screams in his face. This turns out to be a nightmare.
The next day while Jim is about to get in his car, David appears and says he noticed the Deputy at Jim’s place the night before. This totally didn’t happen but I guess something had to get cut to make room for a random jumpscare.
Jim questions David about Cody but he feigns not knowing anything about it. David then reveals he’s on the board of the bank that approved Jim’s loan and offers to unwind the loan plus, giving him 10% if he and his family leave town. Jim tells him to go fuck himself and drives off.
Later Jim arrives at Austyn’s place and questions her about Cody. Though she doesn’t deny it happened, she doesn’t admit it happened at Jim’s house and suggests that the girls are faking the haunted. The two argue ending when Austyn slaps Jim and the two have sex.
That night Staci and Randy arrive home and after realizing Jim isn’t home they decide to sleep on the couches in the living room. A couple of hours later, Staci wakes up in a trance and walks into the office where the rifle is kept. An hour later, Randy wakes up, sees her sister is gone, and searches for her throughout the house eventually finding her in the office.
Staci aims the rifle at Randy and fires but possessed Staci is a horrible shot. Randy runs out of the room as Staci chases after her missing multiple other shots. Things around the house fly around as Randy runs to her room and hides behind her bed.
Meanwhile possessed Staci hears Jim’s car arriving and decides to take aim at the door. Randy calls out to Jim from her window but I guess he randomly can’t hear now because he doesn’t hear her extremely loud screams. As Jim opens the door, Randy tackles Staci causing her to miss her shot.
Randy checks on Jim and then runs outside to get help I guess? Why not call the police using one of the many phones in the house? Meanwhile, Staci gets up, walks backwards up the stairs, into her room, and into her bed as she starts screaming. The door slams shut and a dresser moves on its own to block the door as Jim tries to push his way in.
Jim eventually gets inside, picks up a screaming Staci, and heads downstairs where he puts Staci on the ground in order to open the door. An unseen force pulls Staci away but Jim quickly picks her back up as Randy opens the door and the three escape the house. A short time later we see the Sheriff outside the house with the family taking their statement.
Six months later Jim and his lawyer are preparing to go to trial and meet with lawyers representing the bank and the town’s real estate company along with Austyn. Jim’s lawyer reveals that two days prior Jim anonymously received security camera footage of the Cody killings.
As they play the video, Austyn has an outburst implying she was aware of the footage and the murders which wins the case for Jim. The lawyers settle on a very large amount of money although we don’t see how much.
Outside Austyn tells Jim she really does care for him and apologizes for keeping the truth revealed. Jim leaves her behind and we cut to Las Vegas as Jim enters a hotel room carrying a duffel bag full of cash. Randy walks out of the bedroom, confirms they have the money, and then tells Jim it’s time they celebrate while removing her robe.
Jim agrees and the two have sex. By the way, barring the whole incest thing going on right now which I’m sure will be explained shortly, Jim says the duffel bag weighs around 22 pounds and there are three of them filled with hundreds meaning their payout was $3 million.
A little while later Staci enters the hotel room and we learn the whole thing was a scam. Jim, Randy, and Staci are not related and planned the entire thing from the start. Turns out Jim, Randy, Staci, and Robin were a team of scam artists that ran multiple family scams with Jim and Robin pretending to be Staci and Randy’s parents.
In reality, Jim and Randy were always in a relationship which doesn’t make a lot of sense when you think about the conversation Robin and Jim had on her deathbed. And when you start thinking about it that’s not the only thing that doesn’t make sense about this movie… but I’ll get into more detail in the review section.
It’s revealed this scam all started when Jim conveniently and randomly overheard Austyn having a conversation with a co-worker. Austyn laments not being able to sell the murder house and considers not disclosing the murders which gives Jim the idea to fake a haunting.
Once the “family” purchased the home, Staci and Randy used wires to move things around so they appeared to be moving on their own in the security footage. We don’t see a flashback of this because it doesn’t make sense half the time it happened.
The security footage of Cody’s killings, which Jim got anonymously, is revealed to have been given to him by Austyn who truly did fall for Jim and gave it to him as an apology. Jim, Randy, and Staci celebrate their con with a couple of drinks and Staci tells the team she’s going road-tripping to figure things out. Jim and Randy decide to go to Paris and they all agree to meet up for their next scam at some point in the future.
A little while later Staci takes a break from driving to thank Robin up above for saving her from her life of sex work and drug use. As she drives off we see that Staci has all the money in her car. Back at the hotel, it’s revealed Jim and Randy are dead, having been poisoned by Staci.
The film ends with a final flashback to Robin’s deathbed. Robin hugs Staci and secretly tells her to kill Jim and Randy before they kill her.
616 Wilford Lane Spoiler Review:
616 Wilford Lane is okay and that’s mainly because of the final twists. For most of the film, it borders on not good but that final twist is great and truly elevates the movie until you start thinking about it.
The acting is okay overall but some scenes feel pretty hammy especially when people start waving their hands around to emphasize their anger. The dialogue is pretty bad and I definitely feel like it affected the acting.
But the worst part is the background music, it ruins the tone of the movie and constantly makes you question what the actual tone is. It’s not Lanterns Lane bad but it’s noticeable. The sound mixing is also shitty, especially when some scares happen. For example, when the door slams in Staci’s face, you barely hear the slam because the music is overpowering all the sounds.
The story itself is bland and along with the weird tone the music is giving, it starts to feel like I’m watching a PG movie trying to be scary. Then the twist happens and the movie becomes good because a lot of things make sense and that’s where you should leave it because if you think about it for even one second, things start to not make sense.
Why 616 Wilford Lane’s Twist Doesn’t Make Sense
One of the biggest problems with this twist is that it’s not hinted at throughout the whole movie and if you can cut the twist out of a movie and it doesn’t change much, then it’s not a good one. But even within the film, the twist doesn’t make a lot of sense particularly when the “family” are alone, and yet they’re talking to each other like they’re not trying to pull a scam.
Here’s a list of other problems
- If Austyn had the tape of the killings hidden which no one had seen, and the town had covered up the killings, how did Jim, Randy, and Staci know to copy what happened in the tape for their scam? How did they know about the cabinet doors moving, where the rifle was kept, about the waking up in the middle of the night and staring into nothing?
- After the bird flies into the glass door, one of the “daughters” calls Jim “dad”, why would they do this when they’re home alone?
- This happens again before Jim goes out to dinner when Randy casually calls him Dad.
- When Staci is home alone and hears the door close on its own she calls out “Dad” a few times. This wouldn’t be necessary since she knows it’s all a setup and the cameras aren’t picking up sound.
- After her sleepwalking, Jim and Staci talk about the incident like they’re just figuring out it’s sleepwalking. They next talk about the door slamming and while that small part could be considered them planning the con, Jim implies the move and Robin’s death could be causing her to think the house is haunted. This causes an argument about Staci blowing things out of proportion and thinking the house is haunted. There’s no one else besides Randy in the room, why is this conversation even happening if they’re all in on the con? On top of all that, Jim refers to Staci and Randy as sisters multiple times during the argument.
- Why do we see a shot of a ghost stumbling toward Randy in the shower? And what was that shadow who walked past Staci and Miles? It couldn’t have been Randy because she was upstairs having sex with Matt.
- The entire conversation with just Staci, Randy, and Jim discussing Cody’s murders makes no sense when you know that they already know about the murders. They also talk about the disclosure agreement and how Austyn would have needed to include the information about the killings in the paperwork. Why is this conversation happening, there’s no one in the house besides them. That’s literally their whole plan from the start, why would they need to talk about it like it’s the first time their ever hearing about this?
- If the girls moving stuff with wires makes sense but not for everything that happens. Who moved the cue ball, who moved the cabinets when everyone was asleep, who moved the dresser?
- Why were the cabinets moving on their own when Cody killed his family?
These are just some of the things that didn’t make sense when you watch the movie knowing it’s all a scam, I’m sure there’s more but I’m not rewatching it again. It’s not that good of a movie and this post had no right being this long.
Overall I do recommend giving 616 Wilford Lane a watch but only if you want to watch something that won’t scare you, has a television movie feel, and has an overall good ending that makes the movie better as long as you don’t think about it too much. If that doesn’t fit what you’re looking for, you won’t like the movie.
Stuff to Ignore
Metacritic – No Page