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House (DVD)

House DVD review!Reviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Michael Madsen, Reynaldo Rosales, Heidi Dippold, Julie Ann Emory, Lew Temple, Leslie Easterbrook, Bill Moseley

Directed by Robby Henson

Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment


“>House is what I can only describe as a Christian grindhouse movie. I mean that in the sense that it’s a Christian allegory horror movie involving a house and it’s an absolute grind to sit through.

No relation to a much better horror film of the same name starring William Katt, this House is based on a popular book by contemporary Christian novelists Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. The movie version is directed by Robby Henson, who also directed last year’s Christian serial killer thriller “>Thr3e (review); it too was based on a Ted Dekker novel. Like Thr3e, House is also meant to tell a spiritually fulfilling tale of redemption and forgiveness in the guise of a horror movie. Also like Thr3e, the spirituality is soulless, the horror is spineless, the plot is pointless, and the movie is lifeless.

I’m not familiar with the book so I cannot say how much got lost in the translation to the screen. I’m going to assume quite a bit since what I watched was a steamroller of clichés told in such a muddled and boring fashion that it failed to accomplish what it set out to, though I’m not entirely sure what it set out to accomplish. Nothing works. Not an ounce of fear. Whatever spiritual message is amiss. All of it brought to us by a technically competent director with very bad instincts trying way too hard to be stylish. Ditto the editor. Add to it actors overplaying the creepy idiosyncrasies of their characters to the point of bordering on parody. Any hope for House ends once the film starts dealing with these flimsy characters and their great sins using flashback scenes, ghostly hallucinations, and surreal Nightmare on Elm Street-type reenactments with characters living out their own childhood trauma – all of it badly overwrought, over-edited, and sleep-inducing. Not even the moments of unintended cheese offer much by way of salvation.

House review!After a run-in with a creepy cop, a married couple experience a traffic accident on a back road shortcut in rural Alabama (actually filmed on location in Poland). An out-of-nowhere rain storm sends them scampering to a creaky old house they mistakenly believe to be a bed & breakfast where a brutal murder once occurred. There they meet up with a grad student and her boyfriend. Cue the lights going out, spooky voices, and constant over-the-top ominous music. If it wasn’t bad enough that it turns out this house is lorded over by a family of gothic Southern satanists, then a masked man breaks in and pursues them as they’re forced to deal with all manner of face-your-inner-demons mind games. Toss in a good deal of running water, people who bleed black smoke, a huge pentagram painted on a wall, and a ghostly little girl who constantly screeches about their pursuer not playing by the rules. Topping it all off is a special appearance by Michael Madsen as Sheriff Lucifer P. Coltrane.

Ah, yes, the satanic Southern family that occupies this house. There’s an old lady who looks like a sinister version of Miss Hathaway from “Beverly Hillbillies”, Bill Moseley displaying hammy intensity as the menacing patriarch of the household, and their son who’s like an inbred cross between Norman Bates and Renfield – but hornier. They’re just a Leatherface away from being the Texas Chainsaw Mama’s Family.

A Leatherface sort-of arrives in the form of The Tin Man, a masked slasher (more a masked stalker who never actually kills anyone – there’s simply no justifying the film’s R-rating since the content barely warrants a PG-13 if you ask me) wanting into the house to punish the guilty for their sins. These four stranded motorists all happen to have deep, dark secrets that continue to haunt them. Like a Saw movie, the Tin Man informs them that there are rules they must follow. These rules are delivered to them written on the side of a tin can – because he’s the Tin Man, get it?

Rule #1 – God came into my house and I killed him.

That’s really more a statement than a rule.

Rule #2 – I will kill anyone who comes into my house like I killed God.

That’s really more a threat than a rule.

Rule #3 – Give me one dead body before sunrise and I’ll let rule #2 slide.

An actual rule!

House review!It’s all meant to try and turn the four interlopers against one another while forcing them to face their checkered pasts by way of supernatural manipulation. Rule #3 ultimately proves to be a moot point given how it all plays out and this Tin Man proves to be no Jigsaw. If he only had a brain.

Now let’s enjoy some choice samples of actual dialogue.

“You brought trouble like how a dog brings fleas.”

“Sorriest bunch of sinners I’ve ever seen.”

“Ah, god, it’s black magic.”

The whopper, though, comes near the end when Michael Madsen reveals his obvious demonic nature and informs us all, “I’m pure evil… 100%.” Which he says in a tone of voice typically reserved for a drowsy drunk in a bar wanting to bum a cigarette.

Somehow this whole laborious mess was meant to culminate in a spiritually redeeming climax. That falls flat because the script forgot to include anything resembling genuine spirituality outside of the frequent use of generic quasi-religious talk. Only spiritual enlightenment I achieved was thinking “Thank God that’s over” when the closing credits began to roll.

Still, any movie that features a jump scare in its opening minutes involving a chicken terrifying an unsuspecting woman by jumping into her lap through an open car window deserves at least one knife.

Special Features:

  • There is nothing special to be found here. Nothing.

    Film:
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    1 out of 5

    Special Features:
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    0 out of 5

    Discuss House in the Dread Central forums!

  • Foywonder

    • kiddcapone

      I just watched this the other day because as a fan of horror, it’s my job to watch them all, good and bad. And this one is off the charts BAD. The review is spot on. I wouldn’t even have given this piece of shit one knife, chicken jump scare or not. It’s just horrible. It wants to be clever, but the ending is ridiculous and makes absolutely zero sense what-so-ever. Everything that happens in the movie is a joke and waste of time. The characters all are weak and you know 2 minutes after meeting each one exactly what will happen at the end. Black magic? Devil worship? The Tin Man? Bizarre people in the house? Everyone’s past history? All this happens for what exactly? No real purpose. The light defeats the dark. Good fucking Lord. I like how two dead bodies come back to life because their spirits jump back in and no EMT’s or police seem to think it was odd seeing them spring back to life.

      Every single time I see a movie like this I’m left scratching my head wondering how it got financed in the first place. I wouldn’t have invested 5 dollars into this flick.

      At least they could have done was throw in a nude scene with Leslie Easterbrook. Ever since the Police Academy movies I’ve been dying to see those massive mellons. Now THAT would have earned one knife in my book.

    • G.D.

      “Moseley is playing what Moseley always does, just without the freakshow makeup, so I’m kind of wondering why he’s cheesy and corny here but isn’t in Rejects, HO1KC, etc.”

      Um…he’s not cheesy and corny in those movies?

    • Sirand

      The second I saw this at AFM last year, I knew it was pure Foywonder matieral… 100%.

    • Mr. Dark

      That’s too bad. I know the book was a hoot. Seriously twisted and original. It’s really not even accurate to call it a ‘Christian book’, it’s more like two Christians wrote a horror novel. You can tell their faith influenced them, but there’s no ‘point’ to the novel other than to be as intense as possible with a mild good vs. evil moral in the end. I was really hopeful with the inclusion of the Devil’s Reject vets that they’d keep that tone. (Although, I will say…from the trailers, Moseley is playing what Moseley always does, just without the freakshow makeup, so I’m kind of wondering why he’s cheesy and corny here but isn’t in Rejects, HO1KC, etc.)

      I’m still going to see this one when it hits theaters to satisfy my own curiosity, but I agree with one thing: Thr3e was horrible, and I don’t know whether Henson has the talent to pull this off.

      Mr. Dark
      Part-Time Dread Central Gaming Guy
      Full-Time Freelance Smartass

      • Foywonder

        “Moseley is playing what Moseley always does, just without the freakshow makeup, so I’m kind of wondering why he’s cheesy and corny here but isn’t in Rejects, HO1KC, etc.)”

        Answer: Because he has no character outside of having a name and being intense for the sake of intense. And then there’s the matter of him being saddled with dialogue like “Sorriest bunch of sinners I’ve ever seen.” He’s not even in the movie all that much. The other two family members have way more screen time than him.

    • Doc Block

      I NEED to see this movie! It sounds hilarious! I thought Thr3e was hysterical and this one sounds just as unintentionally funny.

      • Foywonder

        It definitely has it’s LOL moments but it’s not nearly as hysterical as I may make it sound. The middle section is an absolute chore to sit through.