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DVD Review: House of Fears

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A haunted house designed around common phobias, an owner who strives for authenticity and has the money to back it up, and a group of teens trapped inside said house where they are picked off one by one. Sounds interesting, right? No, not the most original, but definitely with some potential. Unfortunately it never lives up to the potential and winds up being a terribly bland experience that left me struggling to remember specific details surrounding what happened.

House of Fears is a low budget supernatural slasher that does not offer up anything that we have not seen before. The kills are unimaginative and are quick cut to hide whatever is happening. The sets look like a cheap haunted house, which I understand is likely part of the point, but even on haunted house scale it is not all that clever. Each room represents one of nine common fears, including death, ghosts, monsters, the dark, bats, spiders, clowns, losing your mind, and sharp knives. (Huh? I know this only because I put the movie back on while writing this.)

The movie starts at some archaeological dig where the workers are all found dead. In their haste, those who found them (including the owner of the haunted house) grab a couple of the artifacts found at the main tent. Among those items taken is a small stone Tiki statue of a death god, presumably. This very same piece turns up in the haunted house before everything takes a turn towards the "horrific." So, putting two and two together, it is easy to tell this is going to be the source of whatever crazy stuff is about to happen to the poor and unfortunate "teenagers" (all played by actors in their 20s, with many well into the decade).

Following the dig sequence we are introduced to our collection of protagonists. Names don't really mean much as none of them have distinctive personalities. I actually think we are supposed to care about them based the sheer fact they are the heroes of the movie and the victims of the house. The closest thing we get to interesting among the teens is that two of them are stepsisters, with one being resentful of the other while she just struggles to fit in. That about sums up the characters.

The gang meet up at a party where one of their number suggests heading off to the yet to open haunted house for a sneak preview. They get there, they go in and they start to walk through the rooms with your typical gags at the hands of mirrors and animatronics. It is an agonizingly long time before stuff actually starts to happen and when it does, you don't really see it and what you do see is pretty underwhelming.

This movie lacks the things I was hoping it would have, namely scares and fun. I went into this thinking I would encounter some jump scares and have a few laughs from the dumb characters it was sure to have. Neither happened. None of the "scares" were all that scary and there was nothing fun about what happens.

To be certain, it is not nearly the worst film I have ever seen, not by a long shot. House of Fears just does not seem to be trying and the result is a movie that leaves very little impact. I suppose the best part of the movie was the pasty bald guy with the hammer; he reminded me of those silent guys from that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Audio/Video. Technically, there is nothing wrong with this DVD release. The colors are sharp, detail is good, and I did not encounter any digital artifacts. It does not exactly distinguish itself as a great transfer, but it doesn't have a huge budget behind it. It doesn't really need to. It is a solid looking disk and a solid sounding disk. It does exactly what it is supposed to do. It is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Extras. Nothing special here. You get the original trailer and a photo gallery.

Bottom line. There is nothing to recommend here. No scares, no thrills, no laughs, no gore to speak of. It just sort of exists in its own bubble. If you have nothing else to watch and you like haunted houses, by all means give this a go. Just remember to have a backup plan.

Not Recommended.

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