(Online Screener Copy)
Directed by Evan Marlowe
Written and produced by Kerry Marlowe
Horror House marks indie film-makers Sweet Home Films second foray into the genre. What we get is a fun, well paced, well acted horror anthology with each tale taking place at some point in the past at the titular home. The film, following the excellent zombie horror flick Blood Rush is a far more professional film, extremely well shot and incorporates some excellent directing techniques. I will give my thoughts on each segment in turn but would also like to mention that Troma's very own Lloyd Kaufman makes a fantastic appearance as the real estate agent 'Joe' who introduces each tale of terror...
Never Let Go
Stars: Catherine Widell, Katelyn Hunter, Alyssa Hunter, John Wuchte.
The first tale acts as a creepy ghost story with a nice little murderous edge. Sarah is a suburban housewife and mother, apparently to a pair of twins, Leah and Abigail. She is also pregnant and recently kicked her husband out of the family home, so it's safe to say these are not quite happy times. Unfortunately for her also, one of her daughters has secretly come to hate her, only sharing her malicious feelings with her far nicer twin. After a couple of disturbing scenes involving Abigail's attempts to hurt her mother it becomes clear to audiences that all is not what it seems and there are far eerier things going on in this house than we thought. As Abigail's murderous feelings intensify the film reaches a decent climax with a chilling final scene. I really loved some of the directing techniques used in this short. The way certain scenes are shot to reflect Leah's light to Abigail's dark are extremely impressive. Both Katelyn and Alyssa Hunter do an excellent job in their roles with them both performing their contrasting personalities superbly. Catherine Widell also does a great job as the haunted mother who soon finds out that a decision made years ago, with all good intentions, is back to get her...with a vengeance. A great little ghost story with a wicked streak.
Be Careful What you wish for
Stars: Kerry Marlowe, David Alan Graf, Lisa Goodman,
The second segment is a stylish, film noir, featuring a great performance by Kerry Marlowe as a wronged housewife out for revenge. The film begins with Marlowe’s character being informed by a detective that her husband has been killed and to say her reaction is less than sympathetic is an understatement. We are then treated via flashbacks to the events leading to the recent death and it becomes clear that there is far more going on than meets the eye. I wouldn't want to spoil anything so will say no more about the plot, but I will say that the ending provides a nice bit of moral justice just like you might find at the end of a Tales from the Crypt episode or something. Not in a gratuitous way though mind, but it was a satisfying end to the story. This tale is by far the most stylish of the bunch and you can see a lot of thought and hard work went into making the story, dialogue and costumes fit the period it is set in.
Stars: Kaden Graves, Alex Sanborn, Helen Soraya
Hot Stuff is definitely my favourite of the stories thus far. The plot concerns an extremely unlike able bachelor (Kaden Graves) who treats woman like absolute dirt. Meeting (Helen Soraya) in a local bar, proves to be his undoing when he sleeps with her and promptly humiliates her. Soon after this, he begins to experience a very uncomfortable body change which just gets worse and worse throughout the remainder of the tale. The ending serves as the films best scene so far and although its rather grim I dare you not to smile…just a little….. A FANTASTIC morality tale with some nice special effects and a gruesome end. Kaden Graves does a great job of making you hate him and his fate is both funny, fitting and horrifying all at the same time. A great little horror short which I think fans will love.
Stars: Lauren Lakis, Elain Rineheart.
Lifelike is certainly the creepiest and most haunting tale in this collection. It shows just how damaging the effects of child abuse can be and although the ending seems to be macabre in a slightly tongue in cheek fashion, for me, it was ultimately disturbing. Lifelike tells the tale of Helen (Lauren Lakis) a young girl who has a most miserable childhood thanks to her mean spirited mother, a lady who would far rather spit venom at her daughter and bring home different men every night than embrace the one person who should mean everything to her. An eerie geisha doll which is given to Helen as a gift, gives the child the one thing she needs in her life which she is sorely missing - a friend to talk to. Unfortunately beyond the age of 8 this ‘friendship’ does not subside, and by the time Helen turns sixteen, the doll remains her only ally in a cruel existence. It is Helens transformation into an exact replica of her doll which highlights to audiences just how disturbed the child really is, and as her mother gets more and more fed up with her daughter’s withdrawal into herself, she takes a final chilling action to be rid of her once and for all. A very good story with a truly excellent performance from Lauren Lakis as Helen, almost matched by Elain Rineheart as the cruel and cold-hearted mother . The ending is, as mentioned, disturbing, dark and all round sad but the story comes highly recommended for its originality!
Stars: Zachary Haven, Abbey Anderson and Alex Sanborn
The film concludes with a classic monster in the closet tale which is fun but perhaps a little too short for my liking. Ella (Abbey Anderson) likes to torment her kid brother Ben (Zachary Haven) with tales of the Leapling, a monster who rears his ugly head every leap year, looking for children to eat. As Ben becomes ever more afraid of the monster, his family try to convince him that monsters are just not real. By the time Ben comes to accept this to be true, he soon finds out that the Leapling may not be just another fairy tale. I loved the creatures make up effects in this short, it looks great and very creepy! I think if I saw a picture of this as a child I would have been terrified to go to sleep at night myself!!! I would love to see what these guys could do with a feature length creature movie, whether it be about the Leapling or something completely different.
A highly recommended horror anthology which I hope readers will get a chance to see very very soon. You can find out more about the movie right HERE!