This movie is not to be confused with the 1986 horror film of the same name. Despite the similarities that exist between the earlier film and this one and the fact that the stories for both were written by someone named Dekker (Fred and Ted, respectively), this movie is not a remake. In many ways this film strikes me as a supernatural take on the core ideas behind the Saw franchise. However, despite several creepy moments, the end result is a muddled mess. Nothing new is offered to the horror world and in end, House is a rather forgettable effort.
As the movie begins we meet Jack (Reynaldo Rosales) and Stephanie, a troubled couple arguing about the route Jack has taken. The two are on their way to marriage counseling and Jack has taken a short cut that led them away from the highway. Stephanie is suitably upset about the situation, which is not helped by Jack’s reckless driving. This leads directly into a near accident as they come around a bend, nearly flattening a police officer (Michael Madsen) who has stopped to help a couple with their pickup that has run off the road.
After a brief stop they are back on their way, but their troubles are far from over. After hitting some debris in the road, their car is disabled sending them in search of a phone to call for a tow truck (in the pouring rain, no less). Sounds pretty cliched so far, does it not? Just wait, it gets better.
After walking for awhile, the couple comes across the Wayside Inn. They go inside where they meet up with another similarly stranded couple. As they try to find the proprietor of the inn they meet Betty, Stewart, and their son Pete. They are one supremely creepy family and the best thing about the film. Betty and Stewart are played by Leslie Easterbrook and Bill Moseley who famously portrayed Mother Firefly and Otis in Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. They, along with Lew Temple as Pete, are nothing if not suitably creepy and menacing, but with a flair for hospitality.
Things take a turn for the worst when someone Betty calls the Tin Man shows up. He drops a can down the chimney that lays out the rules. These rules amount to “kill one of your own or I will kill all of you.”
At this point it would appear that the movie is taking a turn towards the survival horror or slasher sub-genres, but the presence of a darker evil appears in the form of black smoke (a Lost reference? Nah…) bringing that supernatural feel.
This is where the film begins to turn inward while continuing to have a little outward flash. The story concerns redemption as it forces each person trapped in this house to confront something from their past. Of course, they have to do this while avoiding the Tin Man, the creepy family, and each other.
You know, I like the ideas here. I just wish that it was presented in a fashion that at least seemed a bit fresher. The Saw films are based on Jigsaw’s desire to give his victims a deeper respect for life; in House those inside are forced to confront their pasts in an effort of getting beyond that in the hopes of moving on with their lives.
Unfortunately, House fails to really tie its tale together in a cohesive manner. It is a film that begs the audience to put the pieces together but does not give enough of the pieces to finish the puzzle. When the end finally arrives, the light goes on and I got what they were doing but was left shaking my head and wondering how much greater the impact could have been had the story made a little more sense. Too much is left on the audience to figure out how everything goes with everything else.
Bottomline. Easterbrook and Moseley are excellent in their roles, the same cannot be said for most everyone else. It is fine if you are looking for a movie with a few shocks but it is one that will be quickly forgotten and not likely to inspire sequels as the earlier House did.