House of Horrors: The Movie

DWM Productions
RD: October 5, 2009
UPC 747014585634
90 minutes, Not Rated

No budget, very independent horror movies are like chocolate covered ants. That is, both are an acquired taste. Now I love low budget horror as long as it’s done well. I can forgive a lot of things if the flick just offers something meaningful. A good story is always a plus, but just being made with a respect and love for the horror genre will go a long way for me overlooking the shoddy sets and special effects, the “hey lets mess around with my dad’s video camera” look of the movie, even the acting that ranges from not good but trying to, “this person should never, ever step in front of a camera again, not even for still photos.” But does HOUSE OF HORRORS earn a few free passes for trying hard and being earnest, or should it be lumped in with all the other direct to DVD trash that’s best avoided at all costs? Let’s find out.

The movie begins with three teenage girls playing with an Ouija board and worshiping the devil. You know, normal girlie things. Naturally that doesn’t go well and the girls bite the big one but the possessed Parker Brothers plaything is found by a priest wandering through the forest. Next thing you know the priest puts on mask that looks like it was made out of black construction paper and starts killing other priests. Enter Father Holy (no really, that’s his name) who’s a priest that packs a pistol (again, really). Father Holy tracks the psycho down and fills him and his sister full of lead. Jump to some years later and Father H. has not only been institutionalized but excommunicated, because everyone knows that the Catholic Church is only interested in covering things up. Unfortunately the possessed Ouija turns up in a haunted house in Buffalo, New York and before you know it there’s a new killer dressed in black and sporting a cardboard mask staking the employees of said spook house.

At its core, HOUSE OF HORRORS plays out like a slasher flick with supernatural overtones. Now I’m a sucker for slasher movies so count that as a check in the “good” column for this movie. Other good points? Well it’s got some truly funny lines in it that had me chuckling, so that’s a plus. Also some of the practical splatter effects are done reasonably well. Finally the story, while basic, isn’t bad. There’s a bit of black magic, a cursed item, a killer in a mask taking people out one by one, and a neat little mystery as to who the killer is that remains mysterious to the end of the show.

Now, for the bad. First and foremost; the acting is laughably bad. Several times when someone delivered their lines in this movie I could not help but laugh, even when the thespians were tying to be serious. However in certain situations, like watching the flick with some rowdy buddies, or while drunk, or both, this can actually be a huge plus, so one second thought I’ll say that the horrible acting is half the time a bad thing and half the time a good thing. What’s never a good thing is the CGI gore effects. Luckily they aren’t used all the time, but when they show up they are so awful that they draw the watcher’s attention and hold it captive like a very nasty car wreck. They are so bad that I would have to question the filmmaker’s decision to use them. Surely some Red Dye #5 and a bit of Karo Syrup could not have cost that much, could it?

Last, but certainly not least for me, was a personal problem I had with the movie. Now before I mention it, a bit of a disclaimer; I’m agnostic. I do not believe in God, but I’m open to the possibility that there could be “something” out there. So do not think I am in any way a bible thumper when I say that the amount of “I hate God, Christians, and especially the Catholic Church” sentiment all though out this film really bugged me. First there’s the whole Catholic Church covering everything up bit, and that didn’t bother me because unfortunately that has proven all too real. Ain’t that right, Mr. Pope? But beyond that, there are a couple of priests that have lengthy discussions on how the church isn’t about faith or helping people, but about controlling their mindless followers. Now these aren’t atheists characters saying this, these are ordained priests, as if this was a behind the scenes look on what priests talk about when out of the public eye. But fear not, there are raging atheists characters carrying on long diatribes about how religion in general, and Christianity in particular, is nothing but a pack of lies. Finally there are more priests are pedophiles jokes in this movie then you can shake a horse beaten far past death at. Now the filmmaker has the right to say his mind about whatever he wants to and if he would have done it once or twice I would have still picked up on it with no problem, and had no problem with it. A half dozen times or so and I would have thought, “Gee, this guy really doesn’t like churches. Oh well…” But after a dozen or so times all this preaching did was to really piss me off. I would be just as upset if this was a rabidly pro Christian propaganda film masquerading as a slasher flick that broke into hymns every ten minutes so I don’t think I’m being too unreasonable or thin skinned when I suggest that writer, producer, and director Dan Monroe might be better off if in his next films he leaves his personal issues out of the movie.

So with that said the question remains; is HOUSE OF HORRORS a good movie? Well that depends on what your definition of “good” is. Will it win any awards or be remembered as one of the greats of horror? No, not by a long shot. But it is a fun flick for friends that like fright films, as long as they don’t take it too seriously. It was competently made with the budget (and cast) that they had and I have seen far worst slasher flicks made for a lot more money. So if you are a horrorhead looking for something new and you can overlook the inherit limitations that comes with very independent filmmaking then I would say give this one a look. That is, unless you are a devote Catholic, then you might want to give this one a pass.

– Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons

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~ by darkdiscoveries on April 13, 2010.

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