House of Darkness (2016 TV Movie)
Better than many big screen movies I've seen In recent years
18 May 2020
Typically, you might not have high expectations for a made-for-television movie. However, there is no need to feel disappointed with this one. It has an intriguing narrative, first-rate acting, and many wonderfully eerie moments. It may not be as polished as big budget movies, nonetheless, there is a subtlety of style, and well-developed characterisations that are often lacking in mainstream horror films of recent times. "House of Darkness" is a story of a family in crisis, pitted against a backdrop of an aberrant house that has as many secrets as they do. The film starts with the leading characters attending an unsuccessful couples therapy session, whereupon Brian (Gunner Wright) and Kelly (Sara Fletcher) agree to pack up their daughter Sara (Mykayla Sohn) and move to the country in an attempt to rescue their tattered marriage. Kelly's agenda is to have another child to complete their family, while Brian's covert intent is quite different - to separate Kelly from the handsome clientele at her massage therapy business. Brian's seething jealousy drives his every action, often expressed in explosive outbursts when he is either drinking heavily or via his personal video diary, a tool suggested by the therapist. This is a neat framing device, and both Brian and Kelly's personal video diaries pop-up throughout allowing a glimpse into what the two truly feel about each other, and of their personal disintegration. The family move in, and at first reconciliation looks possible in the bright and roomy house. Brian has his own workshop and Kelly is optimistic. Unfortunately for Kelly, oddities become apparent almost immediately. At first she catches sight of horrible ghostly figures, and as the film progresses, she is tormented by a string of other strange manifestations that nobody else can see. Meanwhile, daughter Sara is, in turn, sweet and innocent, melancholy, then " zoned out" in a trance-like state after which she has no recollection of her peculiar behaviour. From here things quickly deteriorate as Brian spends increasingly more time inebriated and locked away in his workshop, and Kelly realises he is deliberately avoiding intimacy. He cannot hide his escalating antagonism and he is now having visions of his own involving sharp objects and dead bodies. At this point the plot digresses in disappointing directions, ultimately leading to an unsatisfactory conclusion. Nonetheless, Fletcher is flawless playing a woman desperate to reunite her family despite the ghostly happenings, Sara's weird behaviour, and Brian's hostility. Wright Is ferocious as the tightly would husband, and Sohn switches adeptly between her three guises. To be very picky, "House of Darkness" does have its drawbacks; the pace could have been tighter, the editing cleaner, and there are parts that made no sense or seemed superfluous to the story. Conversely, for much of the film, just when It began sinking into a lull, or the dialogue was particularly corny, the scene sprang back and it continued to surprise with unexpected phenomena. I enjoyed "House of Darkness" more than most of the movies I paid to watch on the big screen in the past few years. In keeping with most films, it draws on other influences, yet it is refreshingly original. Kudos to the filmmakers who did a great job with a small budget.
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