House at the End of the Road, The (Insomnifest 2008) - Dread Central
Connect with us

Reviews

House at the End of the Road, The (Insomnifest 2008)

Published

on

The House at the End of the Road (click for larger image)Reviewed by Morgan Elektra

Starring Mattias Ohlsson, Sandra Thóradóttir, Henrik Danielsson and David Clausson

Directed by Martin Kjellberg & Nils Wåhlin


Four college students head off for a rented cabin in the woods, miles from civilization. It sounds like the set-up to another cheesy slasher movie, if ever I heard one. Okay, granted – these four college kids are art majors (two painters, a photographer, and a sculptor) who are planning the getaway to work on their various projects without distraction… but they still bring an awful lot of beer.

As Jonas, Marcus, Jessica and Stefan drive farther and farther away from the known world, following crappy directions (at a fork in the road, Marcus says they’re supposed to be going straight), and meeting their strange landlady (who doesn’t speak, but laughs in Jessica’s face while handing over the keys to their weekend retreat), you may be thinking to yourself that you know exactly how this one is going to play out. But you’d be wrong.

What starts off as a paint-by-numbers opening that seems like it will lead to a naked Jessica in the shower getting slaughtered after she and Marcus finish screwing quickly veers off course and becomes an atmospheric and unsettling film where nothing is as it seems. From the moment the group pulls up to the house, things are off-kilter, but no one’s quite sure what wrong. They all try and settle in, do some work, drink and dance and have a good time… but they all feel it one way or another, and it affects all of them. As they try and do work, and spend time with friends, stranger and stranger things begin to happen.

Not just noises and barely glimpsed faces, but sinister apparitions, bizarre pronouncements from spooked locals, and strange phrases typed over and over on laptop screens (WE CAN SEE YOU). And while they do react in some sort of cliché ways (personally, if I was there and found a room in the catacomb under the house I was renting where blood appeared to be dripping down the walls… FRESH blood… I would skedaddle, and quickly), they at least have believable reasonings for doing so. And as they explore, we are continually given small pieces to a very large puzzle as we, along with the characters, desperately try and figure out what’s going on.

The strength of The House at the End of the Road is not what we see, but what we don’t see. Directors Kjellberg and Wåhlin excel at giving you just the tiniest glimpse of things and allowing your imagination to get the best (or worst) of you. While I’m sure this is, in part, due to budgetary constraints, it’s also quite clear that they want you to not be sure what’s going on. That way you really understand what the characters are going through. And speaking of the characters, though we don’t get any back story on our group or even that much dialogue during the film’s brief runtime, the acting is all very good and they really convey a sense of normal, real people that can be easily related to.

I am not being intentionally vague about the plot… really, there’s little I could tell you that would make sense if you haven’t seen it… and maybe even if you had. Frankly, if you like the type of film where everything is wrapped up and explained by the time the credits roll, you will most likely hate The House at the End of the Road. Nothing is explained, and everything is open to interpretation. I would compare it to Brad Anderson’s great creepfest Session 9 in that way. Chock full of atmosphere and solid performances, the story teases from beginning to end, and ultimately it’s up to each person to decide what to believe.

The film is so full of shots that are either dark, blurred or quick, you’re never sure what you’re seeing. And though this was clearly a low budget endeavor, that never seems to be the reason for the way the movie is filmed, or to limit its story. Rather, it’s a tactic to keep viewers on the edge of their seat, as unsure of what they’re experiencing as the characters it’s happening to.

Obviously, this is where Kjellberg and Wåhlin were going, as the tagline “You’re the only person that you can’t trust” indicates. Well, I have to say, they achieved their goal with grace, subtlety and not a few creeps. If you’re looking for an action packed, straightforward horror flick that will allow you to turn off your brain while the bodies pile up, this isn’t for you. But if you like more abstract and atmospheric stories that build slowly and play with your mind, you’ll enjoy The House at the End of the Road.

The only complaint I have is that, at only 56 minutes, the runtime is so very brief. I would have liked another 20 or 30 minutes worth of movie and think the story could have used it and still retained its mystery. In the scheme of things, it’s a small complaint though… If subtle mindfucks are your thing, you’ll want to watch The House at the End of the Road. It will get under your skin and make you want to turn on all the lights … just to be sure you can see everything that might be able to see you.



4 out of 5

Discuss The House at the End of the Road in the Dread Central forums!

This film can been seen as part of Insomnifest 2008!

Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading
Comments

Reviews

AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

Published

on

Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

Sending
User Rating 4 (3 votes)
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

News

The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

Published

on

By

Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

Sending
User Rating 3.9 (10 votes)
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Reviews

The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!

Published

on

Starring Perri Lauren, Sean Meehan, Dan Berkey

Directed by Alan Lougher


The loss of a young child drives a mother to take a set of unusual measures to preserve his memory, and all it takes is one call to The Dollmaker.

When the short film by Alan Lougher opens up, we see a rather disturbing image of a little boy inside a casket, and the sound of a grieving mom speaking with an unidentified man in the background – he’s requesting something personal of the child to help “finish” his product, and it’s not before long that mom has her little boy back…well, kind of. What remains of the child is the representation of his former self, although it’s contained within the frame of a not-so-attractive doll, and the boy’s father isn’t a believer in this type of hocus-pocus (or the price to have this constructed, either). The doll comes with a specific set of instructions, but most importantly, you cannot spend more than one hour a day with the doll, or else you’ll go mad thinking that the soul inside of it is actually the person that you lost – sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Well this is just too good to be true for Mommy, and as the short film progresses, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to her mind – it’s ultimately a depressing scenario, but Lougher gives it that creepy feel, almost like visiting a relative’s home and seeing their dearly departed pet stuffed and staring at you over the fireplace – HEEBIE-JEEBIE CITY, if you ask me. All in all, the quickie is gloomy, but ultimately chilling in nature, and is most definitely worth a watch, and if I might use a quote from one of my favorite films to apply to this subject matter: “Sometimes…dead is better.”

  • Film
3.5

Summary

Ultimately chilling in nature!

Sending
User Rating 3.31 (16 votes)
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Go Ad Free!

Support Dread Central on Patreon!

Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

* indicates required

From Around the Web

Trending