Monday, 27 April 2015

April Apparitions: Dark House (2009)

Dark House (2009)
Director: Darin Scott
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Meghan Ory, and Diane Salinger
Running Time: 85 min

   So I wanted to watch this for a couple of reasons, one it has the tag "Fangoria Frightfest" on it, which would lead me to believe that it has the approval of one of the greatest horror mags in the world and two, it has Jeffrey Combs in it, who is always a pleasure to watch in any film.  These two factors are my driving force as I head down to the gate and unlock the door to the dark house.

  For some reason, a little girl is dared by her friends to go into the old Darrode House, which is a foster home in the neighbourhood.  Umm, okay.  So, the girl does and once inside the house and she dicovers a number of children, who have been murdered and their care taker, Janet Darrode is sticking her hands in the garbage disposal for some unexplained reason.  Confused and scary, the little girl waits for Janet Darrode to pass out from the pain and then heads to the pantry closet where she hears a noise and when she looks through the keyhole, another eye meets hers.  Peek-a-boo! 
  This is when Claire wakes up from her awful nightmare and goes to see her psychiatrist.  It's been fourteen years since the brutal murders and Claire, who is now an adult, still has a hard time remembering and confronting these terrifying images that she saw that day.  Her psychiatrist suggests that she needs to confront her fears and go back to the old Darrode house and only then will she be free of these haunting memories but she tells him that she has tried and that she can't face what she saw that day, ever.
  However while Claire is at her acting class later that day, a famous horror entrepreneur, Walston Ray barges into their class and offers them all jobs at his brand new horror attraction at..., guess where..., yep, the old Darrode house.  Claire's classmates are put off at first by the idea of plying their thespian trade at a haunted house attraction but because Claire thinks this would be a great opportunity for them as actors and secretly for her to confront her fears, they all decide to go.  Nice going Claire!
  They all meet Walston the next day at the Darrode house and are introduced to his small crew of fear inducers.  They give Claire and her friends a quick tour of the place and show them what is going to drive all their customers into the recesses of madness and fear.  Holograms!  "Authentic" looking holograms of terrifying things that appear to chase and attack their customers.  Everybody thinks it looks cool and is great, then they all go and get changed for that nights media opener.  However, while they are getting changed, the ghost of Janet Darrode hacks into the holographic mainframe and kills the one engineer running the whole system in the basement.  Dammit Janet!
  Walston hands the two reports over to Claire and his assistant to give them the frightful tour and things start off really well, until both reporters are murdered by spooky holograms.  Claire and the others try to get out of the house to call the police and get some help, but the house is sealed up tight and nobody is going anywhere.  Will this house and Janet Darrode swallow the souls of another group of young people and Walston Rey or will Claire be able to face her fears and finally stop that bitch, Janet Darrode from murdering more of her friends?

  Ummm, yeah, this film has an interesting concept but it isn't executed very well.  The main idea is great, it's a haunted house that is being turned into a horror attraction with what are suppose to be impressive holograms but then a ghost turns everything into the real thing and starts killing everybody.  Awesome!  However, the story starts off well but there are so many unnecessary and annoying twists throughout the film, that by the end the original story is just muddled and confusing.  There is like 3 endings to this film and 2 of them are not necessary. 
  Also, the holographic monsters in this are so generic and lame looking that it's kind of sad.  If I paid for this tour, honestly I'd want my money back.  What is worse is that most of the blood is CGI and none of it looks real, which makes it not scary and that makes it really disappointing.    
  Finally, I really like Diane Salinger ( Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Rest Stop), who plays Janet Darrode, but how writer/director Darin Scott (Caught Up, Something Wicked) told her to play this character was really off base.  This performance of a evil ghost is so bad and irritating that I can't even finish this sentence.  It's just awful and the only saving grace, kind of, is that the character isn't around that much in the film.

  So what's good about this film, outside of a concept that gets totally wrecked with way too many "creative twists"?  Jeffery Combs is excellent in this film.  With all the bad acting, nonsense shitty ghosts and CGI blood being After effected everywhere, Jeffery Combs still shows up and gives a solid performance as a smarmy, money hungry letch and horror house barker.  He knows his character, he knows the type of film he's in and plays it to a tee.  It's a shame there isn't more of him in the film.
   Also, there is the occasional jump scare but they are far and few between.

  This is a C horror at best and you shouldn't go into this film expecting much at all.  It's not that bad at first but as the film progresses, it starts showing serious story flaws and budgetary restraints.  It might be good if you're having an "it's so bad movie party" but some of the characters are too aggravating that it ruins the potential for any unintentional humour.  So, if you love Jeffery Comb and are willing to watch all of his performances, no matter what, then this one should be on the bottom of your list.


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