We're gonna rock down to the house on Electric Avenue!
"House of Mystery" is an extremely obscure and unknown little film, but if you do eventually encounter a review for it on the internet left or right, it's always very positive and praising. That's the main reason why I tracked it down, actually, since I'm continuously on the lookout for hidden gems in the horror genre. Another thing motivating me to look for a copy was the name of director Vernon Sewell. Sewell definitely isn't the most prominent of British horror directors from the 1960's and 1970's, but he nevertheless made a couple of interesting hit-and-miss films, like "The Horrors of Burke & Hare", "Ghost Ship", "The Blood Beast Terror" and "The Curse of the Crimson Altar". Sadly I have to announce that "House of Mystery" honestly isn't an undiscovered masterpiece. It's a modest, compelling and moderately engaging little thriller with a few good ideas and admirably tense atmosphere, but the conclusion isn't nearly as shocking as build up towards to. With its short running time of barely 56 minutes and abrupt transitions between scenes, "House of Mystery" feels more like an episode in a supernaturally themed TV-show, like Alfred Hitchcock Presents or something. The plot is about a young couple scouting for affordable houses on the British countryside and stumbling upon one that is extremely well-priced considering its size and condition. Obviously there's a minor catch, because the curious female caretaker tells them about the house's dark past. It seems another young couple already bought the house before them and they had problems with the lamps and the TV-set, as a result of electrical impulses around the house going bonkers. The house was originally owned by an electrical engineer Mark Lemming, who discovered that his wife and her lover wanted him dead and invented a little game to get even. "House of Mystery" has a bizarre flashback within flashback narrative structure of which I don't really understand the added value. The couple listens to the story of another innocent couple's bad experiences with the house. How they hired a paranormal detective and how they witnessed a séance to discover the truth. What exactly is the point of all these extra characters? Also, the more you contemplate about the murder plot, the less sense it makes. The fiendish lovers try to kill Mark Lemming through electrocution. Hello, he's an electrical engineer!? Of course he saw through the plan. That's like wanting to kill Mike Tyson in a boxing ring. It just doesn't work. The flashback illustrating Lemming's vengeance abruptly ends without ever stating clear whatever happened to the survivors, so I really can't call it great thriller stuff even if I wanted to. The concept of domestic terror through electrical booby traps is creative and assures a few suspenseful sequences, but that still doesn't guarantee a horror sleeper hit.
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