Stream to Scream: “DARK HOUSE”
As many fright fans already know, FANGORIA offers a great selection of gruesome movies, old and new, for free at our Hulu channel. To give you a better idea of what’s available, FANGORIA is taking in-depth looks at some of the channel’s terrifying titles with Stream to Scream. Today: Darin Scott’s DARK HOUSE.
For many horror buffs, there are few cinematic joys as much fun as an old-fashioned pick-’em-off haunted-house film. With a decently sized cast and an assortment of peculiar, unexpected ways to kill them off, such a movie can become a guessing game of “Who’s next?”, which is all the better when you have a cast running at the material with no reservations. Lackluster character development and weak production value can be liabilities in such productions, but often, they’re excusable in the same light in which one can enjoy an interactive midnight movie. The film becomes a battle between expectation and plausibility, with the viewer caught in the middle.
It’s in such circumstances that DARK HOUSE thrives, giving fright fans an exhibition of classic storytelling technique with modern gore and more than a little over-the-top flair for good measure. To its credit, DARK HOUSE devotes more attention to its story and mythology than many of its contemporaries, and its creators certainly seem aware that it’s not going to scare anyone to death anytime soon. But it does offer stellar kills, a unique plot progression and, best of all, magnificent scene-chewing from Jeffrey Combs.
DARK HOUSE has a rather simple story, as a group of actors are brought in by a spooky-attraction magnate (Combs, of course) to walk through his greatest creation yet: an interactive haunt set on the site of a legendary haunted location. One of the actors has a very personal connection to the place, and finds this to be an opportunity to heal her psychological scars amidst the safety of her friends and coworkers. As any horror hound could figure out by now, things don’t work out the way they should, and soon the spirits take advantage of the attraction’s mechanisms to wreak havoc upon the unwitting group.
The film is not without its problems, particularly in its dialogue and digital FX, but makes up for it via outright passion and devotion to its scenario. DARK HOUSE goes out of its way to provide a backstory that’s effective for the haunted-house genre, and director Scott provides several solid scares by subverting expectations of conventional pick-’em-off films. DARK HOUSE also allows the cast to play off each other with relative ease, which keeps the film from becoming too grim or venturing too far into soulless cash-grab territory. Make no mistake, there’s evident enthusiasm for the plot and characters in every frame of DARK HOUSE, especially when the blood begins to spill.
Surprisingly unconventional and entertaining, DARK HOUSE is much better than one might expect from such a low-budget affair, and Combs brings his creepshow charisma in a big way. Tose who love the lunacy of such flicks will find much to praise here; it’s no HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, but you’ll have a good time walking through the horrific halls of DARK HOUSE.