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Saturday, June 2, 2018

HOUSE OF EVIL -- DVD Review by Porfle

A haunted house story with an undercurrent of Italian flavor, HOUSE OF EVIL (2017) is like a venerable old recipe done up with fresh ingredients and a few modern twists.

John (Andrew Harwood Mills) and Kate (Lucy Drive) are a likable young couple eager to escape the hustle and bustle of the city by moving into a secluded old Italian villa in the woods.  At first all is well and the quaint antiquity of the place and its rustic surroundings prove a balm to their frazzled nerves.

We, however, know better, having just seen the pre-titles sequence in which a crazy-looking guy--the house's previous occupant--is massacring his family in the basement. 

And when John starts hanging out down there for hours in his makeshift darkroom, developing pictures that he's been obsessively snapping of who knows what and generally acting more distant and strange, Kate begins to sense that something is, to put it mildly, amiss.

Those familiar with Italian horror cinema will probably recognize certain elements of it here, yet directors Luca Boni and Marco Ristori have, in addition to a pleasing sense of visual style, a subtle touch that creates mood and atmosphere gradually without relying on shock and jump scares.

The usual wallow in Grand Guignol-style gore is also limited to just a few disturbing images. And unlike much of modern horror cinema, this chiller never tries to startle us with loud noises, flashing lights, or mood-killing CGI.

What the film really does well--aided by a lean script and good performances--is to make us feel just how creepy it is to be in that dark, shadowy house in the middle of the night, seeing things flitting by in the half-light and listening for unfamiliar sounds in the eerie silence. 

In place of shock is an ever-growing sense of dread, with John becoming a stranger before Kate's very eyes and fleeting images of ghostly figures haunting the hazy darkness of their bedroom or lurking in the corners of the musty attic. 

Even the initial joy of suddenly finding herself pregnant will soon serve only to increase her feeling of being trapped in an increasingly dire predicament. Father Andrew, a local parish priest whom Kate meets while walking her dog, not only fails to comfort her but makes the situation worse by informing her of the horrific backstory of her new home.

Like an ever-tightening net of fear, HOUSE OF EVIL draws us into Kate's nightmare until things take a disturbingly "Twilight Zone"-ish turn.  A final reveal tacks on too much last-minute exposition and familiar touches of "Rosemary's Baby", but if you're looking for an oppressively creepy and disheartening experience, this one's for you.

Genre: Horror, Thriller
Running Time: 85 min., Rating: NR, Language: English, Audio: Dolby 5.1

Subtitles: none
Extras: trailers
SRP: $24.99; UPC: 855184007297

Andrew Harwood Mills
Lucy Drive
Désirée Giorgetti
David White
Eleonora Marianelli

Director: Luca Boni, Marco Ristori
Written by: Lorenzo Paviano, Raffaele Picchio
Producer: Uwe Boll

Read our intial coverage of the film HERE


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