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HOUSE OF EVIL (2017)
Directed by Luca Boni, Marco Ristori
Written by Lorenzo Paviano, Raffaele Picchio
Starring Andrew Harwood Mills, Lucy Drive, Désirée Giorgetti, David White, Eleonora Marianelli
Find out more about this film here!
Despite the rather generic title, I was truly surprised with HOUSE OF EVIL, a retro-mix of some truly classic horror films, but still maintaining a rather fanciful look and feel that will more than likely induce chills down the spine of appreciators of horror from the good old days.
Set in the late seventies, a couple John and Kate (Andrew Harwood Mills and Lucy Drive) move into an old house in the country knowing next to nothing about the previous owners. Had they watched the opening sequence, they’d know that the house was the site of a mass murder. When Kate becomes pregnant, John starts being distant; spending more time in his basement darkroom developing pictures. As the pregnancy moves on and weird things begin to happen in the house, Kate learns about the house’s sordid history, finds all kinds of weird drawings, has bad dreams, and becomes concerned that John is possessed by an evil spirit. Though the local preacher attests that nothing is wrong with the house, Kate believes otherwise and as the birth looms closer, she begins to think moving into the old house was a big mistake.
There are no narrative surprises to be found in HOUSE OF EVIL. The film borrows heavily from THE SHINING, AMITYVILLE HORROR, and ROSEMARY’S BABY. But if you’re going to borrow from a film, you should borrow from the best, I guess. Actually, I don’t believe that. I think making a cool concept from a shit film is better than lifting from something instantly recognizable, but what makes me forgive this film is that it does it in a stylish way. HOUSE OF EVIL is a darkly filmed movie. I don’t mean tonally dark, though it is. I mean, it’s filmed in a grainy style one often found in seventies era horror films. Sometimes the entire screen is black with some movement going on. This worked for me in conveying a specific grindhouse horror film—less reliant on jump scares and more concerned with building atmosphere through light and shadows.
HOUSE OF EVIL holds up, for the most part, in terms of acting (there are a couple of times the acting bobbles a bit in the last act when the shit hits the fan). Both Mills and Drive look the part of seventies artsy folk. And the pacing is definitely retro in it’s effective patience with doling out the horror. HOUSE OF EVIL is old school fun. It’s not original by any means, but it is packed with winning atmosphere and there’s something utterly watchable about it.
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