October 16th -- Dark House
As a rule, I try not to judge a movie by its box art. Not that you can't glean a little info from the DVD artwork (I almost said VHS artwork and remembered what year it was) but I've seen from pretty terrible artwork for some pretty decent movies and vice versa. This is all by way of saying that the cover art for "Dark House" reminded me of those god-awful remakes of "The Haunting" and "Thir13en Ghosts," films I absolutely abhorred. "Dark House" isn't as bad as those dingleberries but it's also not particularly good.
The movie starts strong, with a flashback to a massacre. A woman who runs a group home for children goes insane and brutally slays dozens of kids. One of the children, a young girl, returns home in time to see the woman kill herself by jamming her arms, one by one, into a garbage disposal. Needless to say, the girl is traumatized. Cut to years later, when the girl is now a young woman. She's part of an acting troupe that gets hired by a flamboyant showman (Jeffery Combs in a role that pretty much is a carbon copy of Geoffrey Rush's character in the remake of "House on Haunted Hill) to work in his new haunted house attraction. The place, of course, is located in the same house where the massacre originally occurred.
Once there, Combs introduces them to his set-up, which involves realistic holograms that interact with the patrons. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the evil spirit of the woman possesses the holograms, turning them murderously real. Cue all of the inevitable carnage you would expect in something like this.
This isn't a terrible movie, but there's also nothing fresh about it whatsoever. I was drawn to the film based on Combs' participation but he's largely wasted. The other actors tend to be fairly obnoxious, making it difficult to care about any of them. The effects work is pretty decent and the kills are gory enough but that's not really the reason I watch horror films. I prefer a decent storyline, some genuine scares and a little character development: you won't find any of that here. In addition, the ending is absolutely terrible: it doesn't make a lick of sense and seems to negate much of the film that came before. Had I really been into the film by the last 10 minutes (which I wasn't), I really would have hated it by the time the credits rolled. As it was, I just rolled my eyes and went about the rest of my day.
All in all, there's just nothing unique or special enough about "Dark House" to earn it my recommendation. If you're looking for similar films that are done better, you might as well watch the modern remakes of "The Haunting" and "House on Haunted Hill": those films are pretty bad, as well, but at least they have Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush, respectively, to pull you through the bad spots. As it stands, "Dark House" is just another faceless, generic slasher in a sea of similar films.