Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
In White House, a Reality TV Show challenges its 6 contestants to stay in the White House for five days, but it looks like all of them may not even survive a single night on it, when they are being killed by the entity that haunts the place. On their side is a spiritual psychic who seeks to interpret the hauntings and hopes to save not only the contestants, but the soul of her daughter as well.
At the beginning of the movie, there are documentary-style interviews shown about the hauntings in this White House in Baguio, implying that what is about to be portrayed in the movie is based on actual accounts or well-researched facts. Yet when you finally get into the meat of the storyline, it all ends up being suspiciously nothing more than Hollywood rip-off fictionalization. To create a cartoonish fantasy about real places and real people (a badly-made fantasy at that) is just plain disrespectful.
Topel Lee's White House reeks of clichés, filled with cardboard stereotype characters. Predictable, one-dimensional and childishly-conceived. You could tell that the characters are lifeless because they are put into the movie's dramatic situation and they never really act out like they were in there, except for what is programmed by its poorly-conceived script.
Nobody acts realistically conscious about being inside a Big Brother-type "haunted house", nobody kids around about the fact that they are supposed to be scared by this contest, nobody questions if that kid (the kid character who is the brother of the probinsyana) is qualified for the reality TV contest, nobody gives a reference if there are actual rules, precautions, and objectives of the supposed Reality Show. Basic little details are absent to make the movie coherent and sensible.
Common Sense is also absent. If it's supposed to be about a reality show on a haunted house, it is obvious that they should have more than one back-up camera around. Likewise, there should be numerous security personnel and first aid medic teams ready to burst in at the slightest instance of real danger also. That is the problem with mainstream film-makers; they assume their common folk audience to be ignorant. When in fact, their common folk audience is way smarter than that.
Topel Lee has no sense of creativity in this film; everything in this movie feels like it is ripping off old overused lousy techniques in horror. He likes to rely on visual effects and jump scares. Jump-scares are always cheap. And in mainstream tagalog horror flicks, this is extremely overused, to the point that its nauseating.
The direction here has no sense of timing. It was too eager to scare you before it could even create a build-up. It is too desperate to show some neat camera tricks; sure some of the visual work may be impressive; but it is nothing if it does not come with a good build-up or a good storyline and directing.
All in all, WHITE HOUSE is nothing more than the same garbage that makes mainstream Tagalog horror films extremely embarrassing. Another movie that adds more stink to the reputation of local mainstream cinema.
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