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House (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)


HOUSE (2008)

Starring Michael Madsen, Reynaldo Rosales, Heidi Dippold, J.P. Davis, Julie Ann Emery, Lew Temple, Bill Moseley, Leslie Easterbrook, Pawel Delag, Weronika Rosati, Alanna Bale, Mark Fierer, Florentyna Synowiecka, Andrew Gorzen and Albert Pietrzak.

Screenplay by Rob Green.

Directed by Robby Henson.

Distributed by Roadside Attractions / LionsGate Films.  88 minutes.  Rated R.

Is it a horror film?

Is it a religious film?

Do we care?

Actually, the religious aspects are pretty much disguised – only peeking out in a few certain little plot points – before they are sprung on us with little subtly and subtext in the over-the-top dénouement.

Is it even a house – as suggested in the generic title?

Not really.  It may be the biggest bed and breakfast you will ever find in the Alabama backwaters.

So why is this movie even called House?  No, this has nothing to do with the cult-fave 1986 William Katt ghost movie House, or even the current FOX-TV medical series House, M.D.

As you can tell, House is more than a bit of a conceptual mess.

In House, two couples are stranded in the middle of nowhere when they get flat-tires on a mysterious road (it’s not even on the maps!) through the ‘Bama backwoods.  However, the road’s got to be okay, right?  That eerie policeman gave them the short cut.

All four wind up at The Wayside Inn – a gothic looking mansion in the middle of nowhere that is run by a family that look like refugees from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

In the meantime the Inn is being attacked by a ghostly figure outside called The Tin Man, who threatens to kill everyone in the place unless they murder one person by sunrise to appease him.

Therefore the two couples get lost in the mazes of the incomprehensible house – where they forced to face and relive their past sins to find purification in order to last until the sunlight.

However what exactly are these characters’ sins?

Is it a couple not being there to save their young daughter when she falls through the ice on a frozen lake?  That is tragic, sad, probably even unnecessary (if they weren’t somewhat self-absorbed it may not have happened) – but hardly a sin.

Is it a teenaged girl killing an incestuous uncle in self-defense when he is trying to rape her?

Or is it the verbally-and-physically-abused little boy who is forced against his will to go hunting with his sadistic father and then saves a deer by sacrificing his dad?

Okay, that last one is a sin – but at least it is one with a somewhat understandable motivation.  Besides, it is done by an eight-year-old, who probably doesn’t have the notions of sin and redemption too clear in his mind yet.

Are these really actions worthy of the physical and mental torture these two couples must endure overnight in this oversized B&B?

The answer is of course not, however that does not stop the filmmakers from spewing forth fire and brimstone on the unfortunate, imperfect lodgers of the Wayside Inn before giving some of them a chance at heavy-handed salvation.

And who exactly is that inscrutable (Christ-like?) curly-haired girl who suddenly appears in the basement to help our heroes find their way?

Is it even a mystery who it is that is doing all of this?  Hint to the filmmakers – when you only hire one recognizable actor and he disappears after the first scene, the audience knows he’s got to show up again eventually…

However, the biggest mystery of House is why this film – with absolutely no sex and some extremely tame violence – was ever given an R-rating.

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: April 4, 2009.

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