Hey gang, Valkor here. As far as I’m aware, I’ve never run into an anthology film I didn’t like; give me something like a “Do Not Disturb”, “Burning Palms”, “V/H/S” or even “The Telling” any day of the week and I’m a happy camper. But I recently discovered this new film called “House of Horrors” and a lot of it had me scratching my head saying “wut”, but the rest of the film... not so bad.
Horror House is a film anthology of five individual stories that takes place between the walls of this one particular house. At the opening, a real estate agent appears (played by none other than Toxic Avenger’s Lloyd Kaufman), who also acts as your guide, setting up each story, to let you, who would be the viewer/buyer, know what went on within this house.
Never let Go – 8 years prior, Sarah Ford made one of the toughest decisions of her life - having to choose between her twin daughters as only one could survive during child birth. Presently, surviving daughter Leah has an imaginary friend Abigail, who is linked to that past and things start to get a little “too real”.
Be Careful What You Wish For – Anna returns home to find her husband having an affair. Before making a break for it, she finds a tarot card in his pockets. She seeks out the psychic whom the card belongs to and winds up getting her own fortune told. But before she gets to the last card, Anna storms out. But it’s that last card that she didn't see… well be careful what you wish for…
Hot Stuff (Val Favorite) – Andy thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips, thinking he can get any girl he wants but always looking for “just the right one”. Well he meets “the one” and it will be a meeting he won’t soon forget or wish he ever had.
Lifelike – Helen’s home isn’t the happiest as her mom brings home a different man almost every night; she also physically and verbally abuses her whenever she gets the chance. One of the suitors brings Helen a doll from Japan that soon becomes Helen’s only friend and outlet; skip ahead years later and Helen soon takes on the form of the doll - right down to the face makeup and clothing. After having troubles in school, mom tosses out the doll and Helen withdraws into herself becoming that, which was taken away from her. The ending is probably one of the most disturbing I’ve ever witnessed.
The Leapling – Against the wishes of their parents, but through the persistence of her brother Ben, Ella tells Ben the story of The Leapling, a creature that comes out of hiding every leap year to steal the first born son. When events occurring around Ben appear similar to that in the book, then it becomes apparent to him that maybe the legendary tale is more real than fantasy.
I gotta give cool points to those behind the scenes of Horror House for bringing in Lloyd Kaufman to the front as narrator and guide for this film. Though I will admit, when I saw the guy, I thought the film would be a total shlock-fest filled with buckets of blood, cheesy makeup and cheap effects. But in the end it turned out to be something entirely different.
While Horror House doesn’t pack too many scares, it does have a high dosage of creep and a moderate level of humor. While each tale takes place in the same house, the stories are self contained and only once did I see one story overlap into the next (remnants from Hot Stuff appear briefly in The Leapling); it would have been nice to see more… or maybe there was more and I missed it? I dunno. Moving on. Hot Stuff was one short I enjoyed watching over and over; just to see some douche get his comeuppance… so satisfying. But it was also the funniest of the bunch. And then there’s “Lifelike”, with that super creepy makeup job on the Helen character and uber disturbing ending - I was simply blown away by it. The film flows at a brisk pace with little drag. The acting is hit or miss, but it isn’t anything that distracts, with well-rounded performances from just about everyone, including Kaufman. While Horror House doesn’t rank high in terms of anthologies I’ve watched, it’s still a solid film.
There were just too many “wut” moments, especially the endings of certain shorts. Like the first short “Never Let Go”; it had a nice build up to something truly creepy, but drops the ball at the end. The same can be said for “Be careful Watch You Wish For”. So the first two were kinda lame; however the following three were totally worth it.
That Leapling tho…
Horror House is available now on the digital scene (Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and more); it’s not the perfect anthology and certainly not one of the best, but stick with it past the first two shorts and you’ll certainly be for a pleasant treat. And out of TOV 5 stars, Horror House gets 3. There’s a second Horror House in production, so leave us hope they up the creep factor tenfold.