Sitting (un)comfortably as one of the biggest disappointments of the EIFF 2011, Dan Turner’s Stormhouse takes a potentially interesting premise and (mostly) squanders it on cheap jump scares and unnecessary bouts of gore.
A group of soldiers working on assignment in a top secret underground military base called “Stormhouse” call in a woman who can speak to the dead in order to help them deal with a supernatural entity they have managed to capture.
That premise may sound silly on paper, but plenty of horror/thrillers have ridiculous sounding premises that turn out to be genuinely frightening experiences. Unfortunately Stormhouse is not one of those films, instead it is as silly as you might imagine it to be. Ironically this is because of the fact the film takes itself so damn seriously, not sarcastically playing around with the possibilities the supernatural plot offers or poking fun at the idea.
Taking far too long to get into the swing of things, once it does Stormhouse only has three or four moments which actually work. Most of those are when the film concentrates on what you don’t see, what may be lurking in the shadows and round the next corner, what may be making that weird sound and so forth. But whenever it breaks away from the quietly suspenseful moments it resorts to lame jump scares (hint: there IS a difference between a well timed jump scare and just a loud noise) or over-the-top gore which only detracts from the experience.
Also, aside from – or perhaps because of – the mediocre (sometimes even flat-out bad) acting, we are never really given any reason to care about these characters beyond the obvious not wanting them to die. The leading actress is particularly bland and the soldiers lack any sort of likability or even believability, all of which keeps you at an emotional distance from them when you really should be praying for their survival.
By no means the worst example of this type of film, Stormhouse does offer a few worthwhile scares here and there. But as a whole it fails to deliver on its intriguing premise, building towards a conclusion which is as predictable as it is downright silly.
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