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Dark House – 5


Director – Victor Salva

Cast – Luke Kleintank, Alex McKenna, Anthony Rey Perez, Zack Ward, Lacey Anzelc, Ethan S. Smith, Lesley-Anne Down, Tobin Bell, Charles Agron

Release Year – 2014

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I was pretty excited when I came across Dark House because over the years I have remained a fan of Victor Salva’s work. Till this day I still enjoy Jeepers Creepers and its positive sequel Jeepers Creepers 2, and was stoked to see Salva taking on the supernatural with Dark House. While I did not go in with overly high expectations I did expect to enjoy the film thanks to what seemed like an engaging storyline, but sadly I left under-whelmed. The atmosphere is there and visually this is a pretty slick flick, but writing and execution issues made Salva’s newest effort one I would not watch again.

Throughout his life Nick Di Santo has lived in doubt about his past and the origin of his dark gift – the ability the touch someone and see exactly how they will die. When Nick’s mentally institutionalized mother reveals to him that the father he thought he never had is in fact alive and can possibly reveal the origin of his supernatural ability, he sets out on a trip that takes him to an abandoned mansion he thought only existed in his childhood imagination.

After a long opening sequence that essentially throws us into the daunting life Nick lives, it does not take long for him and his friends to set off in search of the old home. Before that happens though he comes across the information about his inheritance, which includes an old home that has haunted him throughout his entire life. Since he was a child he has been dreaming of and drawing the home, and when he compares his childhood sketches to the provided photo the resemblance is so real it is shocking to him and to the viewer. When they reach the small town the locals fill their heads with tall tales about what happened to the home. The most interesting tale says the home was washed away in a massive flood that engulfed the town, but rumor has it that the home is still intact after drifting to an unknown location outside of town. Of course, our protagonists set off in search of the home and low and behold, they find it. The home is not without its terrors though, as they meet Seth (Tobin Bell), the home’s current tenant and a slew of zombie-esque non-bipedal demons. Now while this probably sounds cool and a bit unique – and it is unique – this story soon becomes a mess. I applaud Charles Agron and Victor Salva for giving me a story that I did not see coming, but throughout the entire latter half of the film I felt like I was watching several different horror films at once. Because of this, the characters were unlikable, including the awesome Seth, and I was left wishing the film would bow out and leave quicker than its arrival. Dark House does provide a lot of horror for the viewer and there are plenty of kills as well, but…the horror was simply not satisfying.

Victor Salva’s direction fares better than the story he tries to bring to life, but his direction was not good enough to save the film. He kicks things off right and secures my attention from the get-go, with awesome execution of the developmental scenes leading up to the first full sequences of horror. His atmosphere is good and the indoor sets used are dark, gloomy, and perfect for a story of supernatural origin. The character performances were decent, with Tobin Bell stealing the show whenever he hit the screen. So how was Salva’s execution of the horror? Well, it was hit and miss. There was plenty of gore and good kills us to enjoy, but at the same time the story left this horror feeling uninspired and as a result, I was not inspired to enjoy it.

Overall, Dark House is a film I had high hopes for but sadly it was only a mediocre experience at best. The direction is fair and so is the horror, with most of the film’s problems being story-related, but in the end this is a film I would not recommend.

Rating: 5/10

…Additional Stills…

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