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After his lover dies due to a botched abortion, New England college student James Farrow begins to see her in dreams and when awake. Drawn to the empty house they met in, James finds it belongs to Professor Ambrose, who teaches at the college and whose past is clouded with mystery. James approaches Ambrose for help and finds that they may be experiencing the same problem. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Loosely based on Henry James' literary works, "The Haunting of Hell House" is a ghost story directed by newcomer Mitch Marcus and produced by the legendary Roger Corman. While without a doubt this is a low-budget B-movie, surprisingly it captures the feeling of old Corman movies and manages to be very entertaining and way different than what could be expected. Marcus & Corman really put a lot of heart in this little flick.
James Farrow (Andrew Bowen) is a young college student in New England in the late 1800s, he seems to have a bright future in his father's company after he graduates, but he has other desires. He dreams with becoming a famous artist and is in love with Sarah (Aideen O'Donnell), a woman his family would never accept.
Things go wrong when Sarah announces she is pregnant; since this seems to botch James' plans for the future, he convinces her of getting an abortion, but due to the bad medical practices of the time, she finally dies. After the tragic event, her ghost seems to haunt James' mind to the point he is beginning to go insane.
The movie is beautifully shot in amazing locations in Ireland. While the budget is very low, it seems that Marcus & Corman truly made the most of it as the movie is very believable for a period movie. The movie has a haunting atmosphere that works perfectly with the story it tells. truly a very good deal of work was done in this department.
Andrew Bowen is at times unconvincing as lead hero, however, he manages to carry the film with the aid of veteran Michael York, in the role of an old professor who is also haunted by his own ghosts. Jason Cottle as James' best friend Fletcher is superb and gives good intelligent comic relief, something quite unusual in the genre these days. Cottle is a natural scene stealer.
The movie's biggest flaw is probably that the story doesn't work completely. The script feels underdeveloped and truly hurts a film that could had been a new cult classic. The story drags a bit and on a few occasions gets a bit boring, but still it works. It's a real shame since the movie had the potential of becoming Corman's best movie in years. The low-budget hurts the film in the effects department, as the gore looks a bit cheap and unconvincing. Fortunately, the movie focuses on atmosphere and its characters rather than on gore.
To summarize, this is a sadly overlooked movie that deserves a chance,if only to realize that when movies are done with heart, they can be a very enjoyable experience. 6/10
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