House (1986)

Director: Steve Miner

Starring: William Katt, George Wendt


House is one of those movies I remember watching as a kid and being terrified about. I had faint memories of a few scenes but had no recollection of the plot, so when I set out to write my first review for our blog (and being forced by Tyson and Chris to go out of my comfort zone), I felt House was the perfect movie for the job.

House starts out as most unsuspecting horror movies do: nice sunny day, perfect little neighborhood, and a darling Victorian house on a quiet little street…what could possibly go wrong? Well, a grocery delivery guy was about to find out, as he entered the house and found that Aunt Elizabeth seemed to not be home, to receive the groceries she ordered. As any curious delivery dude would, he decides to look for her…and regrets his decision as soon as he finds her “hanging” around (pardon the pun) in her room. This is what triggers the story, as Roger Cobb, her nephew and a famous horror writer, comes back to town for the funeral. Naturally, Roger has a dark history with the house, but after much deliberation, decides to move back in to work on his latest book – and face some demos from his past.

The movie has a very small cast, which I actually found interesting, and while Roger is not a terribly layered character, he is likable enough that the audience can relate, even though the plot is kind of thin. Worthy of mention is the neighbor, played by George Wendt, of Cheers fame. He is the well-meaning neighbor that somehow always makes the wrong choice, leading to an unfortunate, if not funny outcomes. In fact, House actually has a great sense of humor, which comes in handy as the movie develops (trust me, you need to have a sense of humor to deal with the ‘monsters’ you’ll be seeing). Obviously, being the savvy horror nerds we are, we know the house is evil, and so does Roger, especially after the ghost of Aunt Elizabeth warns him about its dangers. The ghost bit was cool, but don’t let that fool you, while the movie starts out with great promise, it barely delivers in the “scary department”. The remaining evil forces Robb encounters mostly leave a lot to be desired. Cheesy 80s special effects aside – after all, you have to know what you got into when you started watching – the main issue with the antagonists on this movie is that you never really understand who they are, where they come from and why they’re doing what they’re doing…and for Christ’s sake, why in the world does one of them look like the Feed-The-African-Children era Sally Struthers??? Similar questions arise regarding the plot, like ‘Was the house evil before, or does it have a hidden agenda against Roger only? If so, why?’ Is what he did in his past so bad to warrant what happened to him at the house?’. Sorry to tell you, but I don’t think you’ll get the answers to these.

Some scenes even seemed self serving, for the sake of showing off a then-cool special effect, or to even simply meet the whim of the director, but have no true reason for being there. Truth be told, many horror movies suffer from this ailment, but I have to give credit where credit is due: as far as discombobulated plots go, House is not so bad. I know I may have come across very critical (welcome to my blogs), up until this point, but that is just so you know exactly what you’re about to watch. In fact, I recommend you do watch the movie. Again, if you can accept (or at least tell yourself over and over, like a mantra), that the writers meant it to be funny, House can be very enjoyable time. Remember, though, in my assessment, this is a funny movie with some horror bits in it, and not a scary movie with some funny bits in it.

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