"The Guilty Cannot Hide"
House is an awful Christian themed, psychological horror film that doesn't really offer anything new to the "stuck in a house with a killer" storyline. The film is weak in scares, is terribly acted, and the writing is beyond bad. I'm beginning to wonder why Michael Madsen continuously shows up in awful direct to DVD bullshit like this. He's the "big name" in this cast and he's only on screen for probably 10 minutes of the movie.
Two couples who both blow their tires on the same abandoned road in rural Alabama find shelter in a bed and breakfast style house on the same road. The people who own the place are a bit odd and when a lunatic shows up outside the house telling them that he needs one dead body before sunrise or all of them will die, the four visitors begin searching for a way out. The staff doesn't offer them to much help either.
As a horror fan, I'm always willing to give movies like this a chance to surprise me, but in the end, House was nothing but a waste of time. The movie is stupid, cliche, and chock full of mistakes. I get what the movie was going for, but it was done very lazily and uses familiar devices to try to get that point across. It's predictable and pointless. Pass on this one.
Jack and Stephanie (a writer and a singer) drive in Alabama. Jack is driving too fast, and a cop passes him. The cop had gone ahead to block off part of the road next to an accident. Jack runs over some of the cop's cones, so they have a conversation. Jack asks for the quickest way back to the Interstate, and the cop gives them a shortcut. This turns out very badly: there is a car partially blocking the dirt road, and a do-it-yourself spike strip over the rest of the path. So, they are in the middle of nowhere with two flat tires and one spare.
Jack and Stephanie find a house with lights on inside, which looks promising. There is a guest register. Randy and Leslie (grad student in psychology, and a real estate developer) are the other involuntary 'guests,' who also ran over the same sharp iron and got flats on their BMW. Shortly after the two couples start exploring, the electricity goes out, and the men go looking for the generator.
The owners, Stewart and Betty, plus son Pete, greet them and give them some so-so news, like indifferent telephone service, no likelihood of tow trucks coming in the night, and 20 USD/person to stay the night. Pete does fix the electricity, and Betty sets a nice table.
At the dinner, the weirdness starts. The ice is impossibly cold, visions start showing up, the owners are rather menacing. When Leslie tries to leave, a menacing figure shows up at the front lawn. Betty is rather discouraged, and asks them what they did in order to bring forth the Tin Man. Leslie starts reading newspaper clippings glued to a wall, recounting an accident some years past.
Betty identifies the figure as the Tin Man. She says that he comes only for the guilty. The Tin Man drops in a tin can with rules on it. They need to deliver a body to the Tin Man by morning, or else he will kill all of them. Stewart and Betty attempt to lock the quartet in the meat locker, but they fight back.
So, do any of the protagonists survive? Just who are Stewart, Betty, Pete, and Tin Man, anyway? Do the guilty secrets of the young quartet surface? What secrets are contained in the house?
Cinematography: 7/10 Too dark, with focus a bit too soft.
Sound: 5/10 A bit hollow at times. Also, the synchronisation between actors' lips and spoken words is off, giving the impression that the whole thing is dubbed without sub-titles.
Acting: 6/10 Not great, but better than in many similar films. Lew Temple, Leslie Easterbrook, Bill Moseley, and Michael Madsen were fine, though Madsen's role was rather short.
Screenplay: 5/10 Familiar themes with not much original, though the ending did seem to be borrowed from another genre. The story does move right along.
The worst part about the movie, is if it had been done right, it could've been similar to The Shining.
I didn't realize when I started watching Robby Henson (Pharaoh's Army)'s House that is was based on a collaborative novel between Frank Peretti (an author whose work I found, let's say, wanting) and Ted Dekker (whose stuff I like a great deal better). In other words, it's a "Christian movie." With, I gotta say, a pretty durned weird cast for a "Christian movie." But, as is usually the case, I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll just finish off the opening paragraph with a great, great quote from another review, published on 9Nov2008 by a user with the nick m_walker_731: "The acting was typical Christian-movie acting. There's an old saying in the Christian Film industry. 'We cannot take the able and make them faithful; we must take the faithful, and God will make them able.' This is no exception. " Oh, that's what I call a quotable review. (I should, since I just quoted it...)
Plot: Jack (She Hate Me's Reynaldo Rosales) and Stephanie (Mexican Werewolf in Texas' Heidi Dippold in, as of this writing, her final screen appearance) Singleton are lost on a back road, as is often the case in horror films, on their way to Birmingham, AL. Jack is driving too fast while arguing with Stephanie; we soon find out (this is not a spoiler, it's part of the jacket copy) that their child recently died, and each of them blames the other for her death, leading to a lot of this sort of festering argument. These distractions cause a near-miss accident, the side effects of which leave their car inoperable; they wander off and stumble upon a hotel in the middle of nowhere. When they go in, they find the lights out, but also find Randy Messarue (Curse of the Komodo's J. P. Taylor) and his fiancee Leslie Taylor (Hitch's Julie Ann Emery), the owners of the BMW Jack clipped. The four of them wander around, and finally discover the place's owners (who were down in the basement fixing the fusebox): Betty and Stewart (Leslie Easterbrook and Bill Moseley, both veterans of The Devil's Rejects) and their creepy, possibly mentally challenged son Pete (Lawless' Lou Temple). Everything starts out about as normal as it can be, but the guests soon realize the inhabitants of the house-and possibly the house itself-know more about them than is possible...
And thus I find myself back at that quote. Now, if you know me in meatspace (or if you've been following my reviews long enough for the equivalent), this may shock you, but I did the born-again thing for a couple of years back in the mid-eighties, and as a part of that, I saw more than a handful of films from m_walker_731's Christian Film Industry. And I'll tell you what-things are WAY better twenty years and change later than they were back then. In 1985, the idea that someone who'd made a mark in the secular world, like Moseley or Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs), would show up in something from the C.F.I. was patently ridiculous. And now, well, here we are. Madsen and Moseley have admittedly small roles, but they're here, and Easterbrook is just as crazy as she was in The Devil's Rejects. I wasn't quite as impressed with our four guests-of them, Rosales turns in the best performance by far, but there's no one terribly embarrassing here; the industry has come a long, long way from Dino DeFilippi's laughable performance in 1970's The Cross and the Switchblade.
Speaking specifically as a non-Christian here (but one who, as I mentioned before, gets a kick out of Ted Dekker's novels), I found this to be watchable, if nothing special. Another thing to note about m_walker_731's review is the assertion that this movie will make a great deal more sense to those who've read the novel. There are bits where I did find myself wondering what in the world was going on, but they were brief enough; I usually had my feet pretty firmly enmeshed in the plot. Not something to avoid, but not necessarily something to go out of the way for unless you're a big fan of one of the principals here. ** 1/2
It defiantly doesn't deserve a 0%, more along the lines of a 40-50% rating.