At the opening moment of House, a quote from the New Testament, “The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not,” appears onscreen. With follows is an entry-level morality play that’s masquerading as a so-called Christian horror film. Wait, is there even such a thing as a Christian horror film? Well, kind of, if one considers supernatural thrillers that don’t get so preachy, like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, which aren’t preachy but may send one running for the rosary beads. Of course, there’s also nothing overtly wrong about a horror film that punishes the diabolical, sinister, or contemptible actions of its victims. That’s just part of the genre schtick, and, as everyone knows, if you take drugs or have premarital sex, you’ll probably be one of the first ones to go when people start dying. So, subtly imparting moralistic behavior is nothing new when it comes to horror, but, seriously, you’ve still gotta make a halfway decent goddamn movie. In the case of a horror film, that means that you have to actually scare people at least a little bit. Instead, House begins and ends with an ultimately silly message about the “light” eventually obliterating the “darkness.”
Clearly, while adapting the novel by Frank E. Peretti and Ted Dekker, director Robby Henson (Thr3e) and screenwriter Rob Green don’t have any fucking idea who their intended audience really is. Then again, maybe an audience for this particular film doesn’t even exist. Obviously, the filmmakers don’t respect the needs of horror fans, and, with an ambiguous title like House, you might also wonder if they’ve got something against Hugh Laurie fans as well. As for House in its novel form, Peretti and Dekker have certainly cultivated a certain following of the faithful; yet, as a film, someone has either given a few blowjobs to the MPAA or had mommy call in a favor, because House unjustifiably boasts an R-rating. That is, this film has, arguably, added just enough violence and bloodshed to technically qualify for a R-rating, which is a crappy tactic meant to potentially lure in a more secular audience. However, the film delivers no suspense, very little gore, not even the slightest of scares, and neither sex nor profanity as some form of conciliatory measure. Oh sure, there’s some death involved when one character gets stabbed, a little girl gets blown away at close range, and people run around with knives, axes, and meat cleavers. Still, all of this is so ridiculous that it’s not even horror-based humor, and House is, at best, a PG-13 series of quick edits and shock cuts. Presumably, the filmmakers mean to “scare” their audience into heading to the nearest Christian church and saving their own souls. The problem is, this is not a faith-inducing film (though it may be faith-affirming to those already receptive to its tenets), and it’s not even the slightest bit scary. So, it is with regret that I announce my intent to entirely spoil this film for the few who may feel masochistic enough to actually watch it.
When Jack (Reynaldo Rosales) and Stephanie Singleton (Heidi Dippold), a bickering married couple, have car trouble and, naturally, a cell phone that refuses to work. So, after Officer Lawdale (Michael Madsen, just retire already) points them towards a shortcut, the couple eagerly and aimlessly wanders through backwoods Alabama. They eventually arrive at a creepy-looking inn (of course they go inside) and meet another couple, Randy (J.P. Davis) and Leslie (Julie Ann Emery), in the same predicament. Shockingly, this freaky-ass inn is run by the clichéd, hillbilly/inbred family: Betty (Leslie Easterbrook), Stewart (Bill Moseley), and Pete (Lew Temple), who pull every unnerving manuever possible. Then, the obligatory serial killer known as “The Tin Man” sends in a note to both welcome them to his house and announce that it’s time for a game with only a few simple ground rules:
1. God came into my house and I killed him.
2. I will kill anyone who comes to my house like I killed God.
3. Bring me one dead body and I might let rule #2 slide.
Oh, fuck, it’s Satan the Tin Man, and the family are his evil minions, who lock their four guests in a meat locker and let them decide who gets to die! Naturally, the four escape from these confines and flee to the basement, where they find themselves wandering through a seemingly never-ending maze of dark, smoke-filled rooms. Somehow, they each also manage to relive their own dark moments of the past (flashback, flashback, flashback, flashback!) and confront their own inner evil as well as discovering a creepy little girl, Susan (Allana Bale). Well, she only appears creepy and is really kind of a rad tour guide, who gives some dope-ass advice as well, and, hey, fuckhead, you’d look like death too if you’d been trapped in the basement for, say, three days. Oh, hey Jesus. How you doin’?
After what seems like the entirety of Dante’s Inferno filtered through every shitty horror B-movie standard and shoved into one roller coaster of a rectal suppository, Randy decides that, well, he’s just not into Leslie, so he kills her. Then, Tinman shows up and kills him because, amazingly, Randy made the wrong move. At that point, everyone suddenly realizes that there is something strange about Tin Man, for he’s starting to look an awful lot like Michael fucking Madsen. Oh, shit, Jack and Stephanie weren’t supposed to figure that out, and now Madsen is seriously pissed because now we all know that he’s in this film for more than just a cameo. So, he starts to shoot Jack and Stephanie, but Jesus the Dead Girl jumps in and takes the bullet for them. Suddenly, the married couple are, like, saved and start speaking in tongues and shit. Ha, just kidding on that last detail, but it would make things more interesting because Jack and Stephanie have suddenly found redemption for absolutely no reason at all, and Jesus the Dead Girl’s blood turns to light and obliterates Madsen. Well, that’s a relief. Oh, wait, that’s not even the best part about this all, because it turns out — sit down for this, assholes — the couples were already dead, y’all. The end.
Agent Bedhead (a.k.a. “Kimberly”) lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She can also be found at agentbedhead.com.If I was a Butt Cowboy, I Wouldn't Even Throw This to the Posse
Film | November 10, 2008 | Comments ()