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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was shot on a budget and looks pretty good, but overall, the
narrative made no sense.
The plot is that there was a famous murder by a religious fanatic foster care provider who beat her charges while quoting scripture to them. When they rebelled, she killed all of them. A neighborhood kid was a witness.
Flash forward... a woman had nightmares related to the house, and a haunted house profiteer sets up a complex haunted house with state of the art holograms. We discover that she is not the girl who found the house, but the house's sole survivor.
Overall, though, the movie is tame. Most of the kills (those involving women and children) are done in cutaway. And the twist comes about a mile off. The ending is ambiguous. Who killed everyone, anyway? Who cares.
Jeffrey Combs tries to inflate this into something better than the average dead teenager flick, but the whole notion of "You didn't really see holograms/ghosts killing people, it was the crazy chick all along" ending just didn't make sense.
Just dropped this from a 5 to a 3 just thinking about the plot illogic. First, that a kid who survived such a horror wouldn't be CLOSELY monitored and watched by authorities. Or that the building would be left standing. (Sorry, usually when a mass murder happens, they TEAR DOWN the building, and rightfully so.)
The expendable black guy(TM) stumbling around for a few minutes after being decapitated was just silly.
It was a nice idea, and the little twist at the end was a nice touch.
However, I could not get past how morosely less than even
one-dimensional the characters were, and how laughably rote,
non-creative and cliché-ridden the dialogue was during this movie.
The bare outline of the story is intriguing, but the script really was terrible. The acting was either waaaaaaay overdone or shifted from being overdone to underdone and back again. Now, I can forgive such things if the proper atmosphere, suspense and effects are plausibly included. This was not the case with 'Dark House'. I am of the old school, and would rather see authentic make-up and gore effects. I cannot stand CGI effects that look worse than a Playstation 1 game. To this film's credit, it does mix both; however, the absurd CGI effects detracted from this film big-time in my mind.
Skip this one, it isn't so bad it's funny, the death and gore is very average, the 'brief nudity' (if that's your bag) is CGI, and the 'Dark House' looks just like a normal suburban house. It's not what it claims to be or what you think it might be. It's nothing special.
Reading some of the positive reviews that Dark House has received makes
me wonder if there is something wrong with me, but then I remember: no,
there is something wrong with this film.
I have always been a horror buff, so I forgive the inevitable cliché moments that are trademark to the genre. But I just found this film to be absolutely hollow. I was hoping for a fun spooky journey, but instead was served: shockingly bad acting (on some of their parts, not all), and a completely predictable, bland storyline. It felt like the equivalent of the not- funny uncle at a family reunion trying desperately to make everyone laugh; only in this case the aim was to scare.
By nature I am quite jumpy, even the sound of the toast popping out of the toaster can make me jump out of my skin. But I can honestly say I did not even flinch, and was bored to the point of comatose. I like it when horror movies look mildly makeshift or amateur, or have a grungy misguided feel, as it can make them more genuine and edgy; but this just looked like something pieced together by a bunch of pretentious film students assigned a last-minute project. Without adding any spoilers, all I can say is that the transitions, layering of footage, and the embarrassing fonts flashing up for the hologram error were like something a first- time filmmaker would put together in paint shop or movie-maker.
It's just a shame that with the advancements that have been made in the film industry, the visuals or atmosphere could not even compensate for the lack of storyline. I've seen films on much lower budgets, and made back in the day where there were no technical advantages, irrefutably better than this waste of time. I couldn't even laugh at it.
The filmmakers here have fun with their "Ghost in the Machine" type
premise of an evil spirit infecting technology and using it to
slaughter their victims, all in very macabre (and digitally created)
ways. That's the good thing: they're clearly having a good time, giving
their movie a fair bit of energy and pace and going to town with the
visual effects and splatter. There's also some dark comedy thrown into
this mix, and a surprise or two (there are some jump scares in this
that actually work, and that's because they're NOT expected). In the
end, one is likely to forget this pretty quickly, but enjoy themselves
while the movie plays out.
Meghan Ory stars as Claire, who as a seven year old girl was witness to the massacre of some other children in a foster home. The perpetrator was devoutly religious and over the top, a sadistic foster mother named Mrs. Darrode (Diane Salinger). Now Claire is a teen aged drama student who learns that "house of horrors" creator / showman Walston (Jeffrey Combs, who may provide enough reason to watch for those who otherwise wouldn't bother checking this out) is setting up his latest attraction in that same house. He hires her and her fellow students to interact with his holographic creations; Claire has encouraged her peers to participate because her memories of that traumatic day are still tormenting her, and she wants closure.
I frequently throw out the word "undemanding" in some reviews, because that's pretty much what one often has to be to go with entertainment like this. Some people may find it just too ridiculous, and unbelievable, to get on board, but others will like the cool holograph characters and the grisly (if cartoon like) kill scenes. The actors adequately do what they have to do. Combs plays his part in the appropriately hammy fashion, and is the true highlight of the film. Salinger is an amusing villainess; 80s film buffs may remember her as Simone in "Pee-wee's Big Adventure". Erin Cummings ("Bitch Slap") is foxy reporter Paula, Tom Gulager (the "Feast" series) a mad scientist, R.A. Mihailoff ("Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre") one of the apparitions, and Don Stark ('That '70s Show') has a small part as a detective.
All in all, this quick and silly romp is agreeable enough to watch.
Six out of 10.
This was the biggest cinematic waste of time that I have encountered in a LOOOOONG time. I think the creators of this mind-numbing, crap-tastic cinematic adventure must have forgotten to take their ADD meds, because the plot was all over the place. I had to back it up 3 or 4 times just to figure out what in the heck was going on... and to make sure I was still watching the same flick. Sorry kids... you can add all of the blood and gore you want... without a plot that any reasonable person can actually follow... it's a total waste of time. The only scary thing I can think of regarding this title is the idea that people actually got paid to create it... I am a horror FANATIC, but I simply couldn't find it in me to be even remotely frightened by "Dark House". Two thumbs WAY DOWN. I'm telling you, don't waste your time...
If you ignore the story you can find things to enjoy. First and best is
Jeffrey Combs acting a completely different character than I have ever
seen. I think it's his best. Does that make it worth seeing? No, unless
you are fan. Secondly, again ignore the story, and enjoy the sets and
vivid colors. Yes stupid reason to watch a movie but nice to see a
non-drab movie. Third, there are four great camera shots, i.e. angles
etc. that would really work well with a better script.
Negatives, except for obvious, really could do without the Joe Jonas and Johnny Depp lookalikes. The Depp one even tried to act like him. The decapitation blood scene is as bad as Tokyo Gore Police (one you absolutely have to watch. The big bad evil woman's hair and acting in last scenes is more comical than scary. Terrible smarmy cops summing up the crimes, unbelievable acting of the little girl who discovers the bodies in the beginning of movie, and horrible idea of the black spooky mist flying around the room. But did like the squirrel crossing the electric lines behind the adult "little girl" in the very last scene.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
By-the-numbers gory house movies usually steal from the best (13
Ghosts, House on Haunted Hill, etc.), then season with a little Rob
Zombie. In this case, it's a tedious slog through a familiar laundry
list of action. A bad script, poor direction and cheap effects only
make the journey all the more boring.
Suspension-of-disbelief is impossible from the beginning. A young girl enters a spooky house and immediately stumbles on a bloody child's body. Rather than react like most people, and run in terror, she calmly continues on, discovering one horror after another. What finally shocks her isn't any gore, but an attempt at a startling, visual cliché.
The rest of the movie is the usual tepid broth of skeptics getting killed by supernatural forces, and threadbare "Quick! Run! But there's Now Way Out!" scenes. There's little to see here that hasn't been done many times before, except maybe in a porn parody.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jeffrey Combs' Walston Rey is an enthusiastic owner of haunted house attractions, preparing for his biggest and best yet, the old Darrode estate notorious for a massacre of orphans at the hands of their den mother. Claire(Meghan Ory)is the lone survivor of that massacre and her memories of that awful day are buried within her mind..encouraged by her therapist, Claire will coerce the students of her acting class to accept Rey's job offers to work in various roles in his new spook house, leading patrons through his "maze of horrors" utilizing state of the art digital holograph technology( a sort of Illusion system)to scare them. What none of them could ever imagine is that the evil spirit of Janet Darrode(Diane Salinger)would corrupt the computer program using holographic killers as tools to murder and maim. The reason behind the slaughter, that great mystery, will become known once it is unlocked in Claire's mind. Ms. Darrode, we come to find out through snippets of memory which return to Claire as she spends time in the house, was a religious fanatic who whipped her children repeatedly while they quoted verse, believing them to be demon possessed. Claire, in a sense, is the one "who got away" and it seems that Janet wants to claim one final soul so she can be "acquitted" for failing to finish the job. In this movie we are led to believe that holographic killers can gain enough physical essence to attack real human beings thanks to Janet's infecting the programming which brought them to life..a bit too silly and far fetched for me personally, although there's an ending(a twist, I guess)that questions everything we witnessed take place once the doors and windows were locked shut and Ms. Darrode started up the killing spree. Other victims to emerge include two journalists who will write articles on the house, critiquing how effective it is(learning first hand)and Rey's haunted house crew. The gore which does appear on screen, is mostly digital, a head taken off with a fountain squirting blood upward like a geyser and long fingernails impaling another. Combs understands his character is a ham and approaches him that way, amusing in his speeches to his employees about fear and the audience.
This movie took a good first 5 minutes then lost me completely until
the last 5 minutes, so 70 of the 80 some minutes of this movie were a
total waste of my time.... If I were a teen who still went for the over
the top kiddy scare stuff, then I may have liked it all the way
through. Oddly this movie felt like 2 different movies made into one,
the first few moments and the last were one movie, the middle a totally
different movie all together, if they would have taken out the middle
and done something totally different than they did, I may have liked
this movie a lot.
For adults who like real horror movies, not special effect no mind entertainment... I give this a 1 in 5 stars. For a teen who still scares easily and isn't much into it making sense, I give this a 3 in 5 stars.
Actors work at a fake haunted house only to find out it's real.
DARK HOUSE aims for the always popular haunted house movie but falls way short. For starters, it takes 30 minutes to get to the house & no scares once there.
Coombs is good but the back story is lame & grinds the movie to a halt every time it's explained, which is often. The other actors are all serviceable but no one stands out. And, I'll add, a twist so cornball it needs to be explained.
It does not fall under the so bad it's good category, as it's not bad, just boring.
For Coombs fans only.
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