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House (1985)

This is a film I always remember seeing the cover art on VHS tapes at my friends house house growing up. I can remember to this day how enticing it was, with the floating zombie hand pressing the doorbell, looking very similar to the pulpy style book covers of the 70's and 80's. I was always curious to know if the film was as terrifying as it looked, yet I never found myself curious enough to see if it actually was as frightening as I had anticipated. Clearly this has taken a lot of inspiration from the 'Evil Dead' franchise. I do want to say more so the slapstick elements of part two, however, that wasn't released until two years later - and was done much better than this, in my opinion. I did find that this film suffered with a slight pacing issue in the first third but once we reach just short of half way, I found myself heavily invested in the story. It clearly doesn't take itself seriously and once that tone was established I knew what to expect going forward. I personally just think it makes the mistake of not putting this in place earlier. Given the silly nature of this film, I was really surprised by the performances of the cast involved and more so by the lead Roger played by William Katt. He provides such a compelling performance, one that really kept me engaged throughout. Had his delivery been less compelling, I don't think this film would have sustained my attention as much as it did. I also enjoyed seeing George Wendt from 'Cheers' fame as the dopey suburban neighbor. He has such a likeable charm about him which always translates well on screen. The most recognisable though was Ben, played by the great Richard Moll. He is an actor whos face is immediately recognisable yet you may struggle to know exactly where from. As soon as he appeared on screen I was almost annoyed by lack of knowledge regarding his career. The effects work and design of the 'creatures from the void' is quite underwhelming and certainly didn't come across scary in anyway, infact looking very quite low budget and rubbery. I can appreciate that this is categorised as a horror comedy, but I still feel that this is something that could have been better overall. The closest and the bathroom cabinet monsters are the most effective in terms of horror looking, feeling quite lovecraftian in style. The rest feel rather lackluster in comparison. I do like the look of Ben later on in the closing act but that still looks rather fake in the moment, I just like the overall design and look of the character in these scenes. The set design is something that really stood out to me, jumping back and forth between the jungles of Vietnam and the dingey locations of the house made for some interesting juxtapositions. The more entertaining of these locations (and unfortunately short-lived) are in the closing act, when Ben and Roger have their final show down in the houses void - going off a 'sandwormland' region vibe from Beetlejuice. This otherworldly idea is something I had wished the film had focused more on and provided much more insight too. Fingers crossed for the sequel. This certainly didn't have the impact I was expecting it to growing up. I would say you could show this to most teenagers comfortably without worrying this would be too mature for them. I did have a lot fun with it and found it very entertaining, albeit in a childish way. This feels like the closest thing to a Goosebumps episode that is aimed towards adults that I have encountered, it's silly but has that nostalgic charm that sees it through to the end. It certainly isn't scary but if you're in the mood for something that requires little attention with humor and horror undertones, then this is a film for you.



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