Altar is a Gothic haunted house movie. It borrows heavily from other movies and is predictable. The ending is a bit odd but I think it makes sense.
Once upon a time, a man who practiced alchemy was very much in love with his wife and while performing a Rosicrucian ritual, he kills her. Many years later, they both haunt the house. Although it was quiet when it was a B&B.
A family moves in to restore the place. and once the sealed off rooms are opened the haunting start. The ghost of Radcliffe indicates the death of his wife was an accident. But he seems to be attempting to possess the husband and recreate the murder using the wife.
I think perhaps Mrs. Radcliffe’s death really was an accident. As the crucial hour comes near, he is waiting and the wife is out cold and in place and the altar stone hanging above her starts slipping from the ceiling. I think it had come loose in its sockets and slipped out and he Radcliffe never meant to murder his wife.
The children race in and save the day, pulling mom from the mural on the floor. Mom and daughter try to get to the fire escape on the roof while the son has dropped some balls for Dad to stubble on. The trap doesn’t work, Mom is on the roof. Dad is looking down at the fountain in the yard. The fountain where Radcliffe died after slipping from the roof.
Mom slams the window on Dad causing Dad to fall back just when the altar stone crashes into the floor. Daughter tosses holy water in his face. Mom is saved, Dad is back to normal. No one died. Everyone things everything is over. They call a cab and are driving from the house.
Mom is in the back seat with the kids, Dad is up front with the driver. Mom starts cracking her knuckles. Just like the lady ghost did. The children look over at her hands and see a huge, old-fashioned wedding ring of amber. She just looks at them. Dad looks back and puts his hand over Mom’s hands and says, I love you, Petal. Radcliffe’s pet name for his wife. He then just looks at the kids. The kids look at their parents in horror and the movie ends.
I think that Radcliffe was never trying to recreate the ‘murder’ of his wife. I think he was trying to recreate the ritual and finish it without her dying. So they could be together again. I think that because they managed to save mom and everyone was there at the right time and no one died, that somehow the ghost succeeded. And he and his wife would now be able to live on again, together.
Where that leaves the kids and what happens to them is an entirely different story which we will never know, since it was more amusing to end the show with them looking terrified as the taxi heads away from the house and back to London.
The movie was not bad if not brilliant. The secondary characters were a bit of wasted space. The contractor that has hardly any screen time before quitting and the ghost whisperer that is hardly there either. The other secondary characters only had lines on the telephone and no screen time at all.
If you like ghost stories, it was nice to see a Gothic one done for a change. Worth watching. If you want more blood and guts in your horror, you probably won’t want to watch this one.