Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Charisma Carpenter, Rick Robinson Jr., Marcus Lyle Brown, Collin Gaylean, Stephanie Honore, Corin Nemec
Directed by Jeffery Scott Lando
Even if you’re amongst the crowd that found Paranormal Activity to be an over-hyped waste of time, there is no denying that film scares the crap out of a whole lot people. Maybe not you, but that woman I heard loudly sobbing tears of fear at the screening I attended was not a plant. Paranormal Activity accomplished this on a budget that was around 100-300 times less than the budget of Syfy’s House of Bones, a film whose supernatural happenings play like the haunted house greatest hits collection: random insects, random hallucinations, random apparitions, ghostly screams and voices coming out of electronic devices, people getting sucked into walls and floors, inability to escape the confines of the possessed building, time and space bent at the house’s convenience, and someone even gets possessed by the house and goes psycho at just the right random moment. No atmosphere; no scares; just recycled poltergeist movie clichés trotted out at random intervals without much rhyme or reason behind them.
A pity; the cast does a pretty good job given the lameness of the script. The idea of having the crew of a “Ghost Hunters” style program called “Sinister Sites” setting up for a shoot inside of an infamous haunted house where many have perished and gone missing in the past getting more than they bargained held promise initially. This could have worked. This should have worked. It does not work. The first time a ghostly phantasm appeared over Charisma Carpenter’s shoulder, the effect looked so cheap I wondered if it had been created via computer animation or by animating some blue filament paper.
The first victim of the ghost house goes to bite into a perfectly fine apple he just got out of the fridge; it turns rotten and worm-infested right before his eyes just like a certain scene involving fried chicken from the original Poltergeist. This imbecile then spies Charisma Carpenter in a negligee walking down a hallway. He should know something is fishy because he just saw her wandering around the house in a frumpy sweatsuit. He follows her into a bathroom where she’s now taking a shower, beckoning him to join her. The horny guy pulls the shower curtain back to find she has vanished and Madagascar cockroaches are everywhere. He freaks out and runs into the hallway just in time to get sucked into the walls to his doom. So why not just suck him into the walls in the first place and skip all the nonsensical mind games? Because lame haunted house movies like House of Bones have nothing to offer but cheap parlor tricks.
A rather unhappy looking Charisma Carpenter is the psychic they’ve brought along with them to walk around this notorious spook house and make comments about it causing her Spidey-Sense to tingle. Why they brought along a psychic is also anyone’s guess since a crew member freely admits their previous ghost hunting adventures were essentially crap they made up pretending to scare one another. Why the supernatural force causes her to experience spontaneous face bleeding and vomiting up hair is also anyone’s guess.
Corin Nemec gives the hammiest performance outside of Andrew McCarthy in a Weekend at Bernie’s flick, appearing briefly as the washed-up prima donna TV star serving as host of the “Sinister Sites” program. Was Nemec under the mistaken impression House of Bones was supposed to be a screwball comedy? A ratings slump prompts the producers to order him to leave the studio, join the crew in the field, and actually get in on the ghost hunting first-hand. He arrives later; first by taxi until he is kicked out for verbally abusing the cabbie and then on foot dragging his luggage down the sidewalk. When he finally arrives at the house, he doesn’t get to do much of anything except totally milk a scene wading through tree branch wind chimes in ways not seen since Bela Lugosi tussled with a non-motorized octopus in Ed Wood. Remove his character altogether and you would never know the difference.
You’d think the crew trapped in the house would at least ask Nemec’s character to go for help when he started knocking on the door. Nope. Nothing logical occurs during the finale of House of Bones. Spoiler time!
The house remains alive by feeding on the souls of its victims. The ghost hunters come to believe they can kill the house by starving it of fresh bodies. According to their own account, the house claimed its last victim in the 1950’s. If it hasn’t starved to death after going without spiritual nourishment for nearly 60 years, odds are they are not going to finish it off in 24 hours.
That could qualify as a nitpick. On the other hand, if the cast of an entire television show, especially a ghost hunting show, goes missing while on location, I am willing to bet this would draw a whole lot of media scrutiny and law enforcement investigations. I realize we’re told this program was floundering in the ratings and on the verge of getting cancelled, but so is “Ugly Betty”. If the cast of “Ugly Betty” is never seen or heard from again while shooting an episode in a haunted house, questions are most definitely going to be asked and major investigations launched. All of these people have friends, family, co-workers, and employers that are going to come looking for them and demanding answers, especially when they find the only surviving crew member now acting as the creepy caretaker of the house. Everyone in House of Bones must have been orphaned and unloved with bosses happy to finally have them off the payroll. That includes the real estate agent and a police officer, too.
To summarize this ghost movie with one word: boo.
1 1/2 out of 5
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