Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
What's it about
Fourteen years after surviving a childrenís home massacre, a young women must face her past after joining the ensemble at a Halloween attraction developed in the very same house that used to be the orphanage.
Is it good movie?
Claire is a pretty effed up young woman. Not only is she repressing a horrible childhood memory of the wholesale slaughter of a house full of orphans which has led her to be a pill-popping suicide risk (with the scars to prove it), she is attending community college acting classes. Oh, the humanity! During said class a haunted attraction promoter improbably shows up with the improbable offer for the whole class to come and be performers at his new site...which just so happens to be the one place Claire has been terrified to go. They all say yes, and bloody hijinks ensue.
Once at the house, they get the lowdown from Walston Rey, the promoter, played with typical panache by Jeffrey Combs, that the house is equipped with hundreds of lasers, altogether capable of projecting one hundred discrete holograms anywhere theyíre needed, which look photo-realistic in perfect 3D. Iím not sure if that is more unlikely than a famous haunted attraction promoter waiting until the night of his new placeís first show to round up some actors, but I guess that is really splitting hairs: so much of the film is stupid youíll hardly get bogged down in such trivial idiocies.
For their part, the rest of the acting troupe consist of characters just as cardboard, cliche, and underwritten as Claire. Their personae and dialogue are strong indicators of the (literally) thirteen days it took to write this script. Once Mrs. Darrode, the perpetrator of the heinous child murders, comes back from the dead and imbues the holograms with nefarious physicality, itíll be a great relief to you to see these insipid ciphers chopped to bits and removed from your sight-line. The holograms themselves look slightly cheesy, which works when theyíre supposed to be part of the show and doesnít when theyíre supposed to be an honest threat to immediate life and health.
Director Darinn Scott handles the action scenes fairly well, but is clearly not an actorís director. Though I can see glimmers of talent, the paucity of script and (literally) 18 day shoot led to some very ham-fisted, hammy performances. Main actress Meghan Ory channels Taryn from AOES 3, if you get what Iím saying. Everyone does a fair job of responding to the thin air later filled with CGI, but I found it impossible to get past how on the nose and unsubtle all the proceedings were. The commentary reveals how almost all the sets were bottom up build-outs, but the script and shoot were quickies. Watch and decide for yourself which is more important with which to take your time.
Video / Audio
Video: 16:9 widescreen, clearly shot on video. The transfer is decent, but the photography sucks. It has the brassy lighting that CGI flicks use to make the animations look as good as possible, which in turn makes the actors look like they have yellow jaundice.
Audio: Two audio tracks here, Dolby 2.0 and 5.1 Surround, only in English. No subtitles.
Commentary with writer/director Darrin Scott and producer Mark Snow: A very fun and informative commentary, even if they have a way inflated idea of what the film is.
Trailers: In addition to the Dark House trailer there are 12 other trailers for Fangoria Frightfest films. Thatís a lot of trailers.
Dark House can best be called a well-intentioned misfire. It was put together in a heated rush and shows all the signs of a quickie production: weak script, hammy acting, and hokey CGI. Everyone involved gave it the olí college try, but other than Jeffrey Combs, there just isnít much here of interest.