Muirhouse DVD Review
Directed and Written by Tanzeal Rahim
2012, 75 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released 10th February 2014
Iain P.F McDonald as Phillip Muirhouse
Kate Henderson as Kate
Steve Lynch as Steve
The long line of docu-horror / found-footage films has added another string to its bow in this creepy 75 minute flick. It’s true that if you have seen one you have pretty much seen them all, however this one does add more tension than the norm and has some Aussie style along the way.
Titled after Author and main star of the show Phillip Muirhouse, this documentary sets the scene in Monte Cristo Homestead, notoriously Australia’s most haunted house. This house is feared by many and covered in Muirhouse’s new book “The Dead Country”. His plan is to shoot some footage and create a better fated documentary than is presented to accompany his book.
Despite being told to never spend any time alone in this house, a cross in schedules means his team will have to arrive at the house 90 mins after he does. Although wary at first, his colleagues reassure him that he will be fine. Sure, why wouldn’t he be in a house which has witnessed death, decay and madness? Muirhouse then spends the rest of the film walking around the cloaked house armed with his hand held cam and a fleet of motion detector cameras placed around the building. All of which pick up his inevitable doomed ending. I always hold a lot of hope for Australian Horror; in my experience they like what we in the UK do style-wise but are a little braver and more willing to throw some scares on the BBQ.
Despite me despising most found footage movies, this one seems to have a little more class than usual. The opening scenes, which are essentially a set up for the footage, have some beautifully shot windows into the history behind the haunted mansion and also nicely bolster the tension for the scares to come. The house itself is truly marvellous in structure and furnishing and needs little help to create a more authentic atmosphere. The camera work is good and the POV footage really does suck you in, the deafening silence mixed with occasion bangs of trouble actually put me right on edge. It reminded me of a Blair Witch/Paranormal Activity twinning (although thankfully without the up the nose snot shot) but finishing with a slightly weaker punch. Had there been more actual scares this might have won me over completely but instead there was a slightly overused camera interference effect added before every loud bang. Understandable when the budget is low, and it did add more authenticity than some crap ghost effect, but still it left me wanting a little more.
I love the opening scene which shows Muirhouse’s end before his beginning and thought the scene which played the EVP recording was classic Ringu.
Negatives include Muirhouse’s constant yell of “who’s there”. Word of advice, shouting this over and over isn’t going to help. Whether they tell you who IS there or not you are still going to crap your pants. Personally I’d prefer a “the power of Christ compels you” to be thrown in the mix. Plus I couldn’t help thinking throughout, just bloody go home Phillip or wait in the car. Surely he could stick a little Pearl Jam on and play on ‘Snake’ while waiting for the rest of the team. Just let the motion cameras pick stuff up and chill! Tut. I also didn’t see any point whatsoever in the after the credits team arrival scene. We get it, stuff is going down.
In the end Muirhouse has some solid foundations and with a little more budget could have been pushed up into my “I’m impressed” folder.
Video and Audio:
The video is crisp and realistic, deep black in shadowed parts and realistically lit in others. The audio is sparse and thankfully there is no spooky or electro soundtrack to accompany the piece. Both the video and audio are a huge contribution to the increasing pressure of the piece and even the shaky hand cams are realistic in presentation.
- The Spirit Level: A real version of this documentary where real life ghosthunters scope out the Monte Cristo homestead and report back its findings. At over an hour long this is a nice addition to the features.
- Theatrical Trailer.
- TV Spots.
- Commentary from director or Iain McDonald throughout the film.
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