Dark House DVD Review
Directed by Darin Scott
Written by Darin Scott and Kerry Douglas Dye
2009, Region 1 (NTSC), 85 minutes, Rated R
Released on September 28th, 2010
Jeffrey Combs as Walston
Meghan Ory as Claire
Diane Louis Salinger as Ms. Darrode
Matt Cohen as Rudy
Shelly Cole as Lily
Danso Gordon as Eldon
Ryan Melander as Bruce
Bevin Prince as Ariel
Meghan Maureen McDonough as Samantha
Scott Whyte as Moreton
What do you do if you witness the horrific slaying of a group of children when you are a child yourself, and you still can't get over it over a decade later? Well, if you are budding actress Claire (Meghan Ory), you take the advice of your psychiatrist and return to the scene of the crime to face your fears. Luckily for Claire, businessman Walston Rey (Jeffrey Combs, Re-Animator) provides her and her acting friends with just that opportunity when he turns that slaughter house into a state-of-the-art haunted attraction — complete with holographic demons — and needs a staff to fill it. Unluckily for Claire, evil still resides in that abode, and is looking for her to settle an old score.
Dark House is one of those movies that is a bit hit and miss, completely over-the-top and completely aware of what it is, which is nothing but a good time filled with blood and grue. Leading this charge of fun is the always terrific Jeffrey Combs as Walston Rey, a man who only has two goals: One, avoid bad publicity on his new venture, deaths be damned and, later, get the hell out of the house at all costs. Combs is great in this role, as you can tell he's having fun with it. And as ridiculous as his character is, there is also a sense of realism to it as when the shit hits the fan, he just doesn't care about anyone else. This is evident when Claire wants to find her friend, and Walston makes no effort to help. Not. His. Problem. That's something you just don't see enough of in horror films. My friends are quite aware that if they get separated from the group, don't expect me to help. It's every man for himself when there's a slaughter happening.
The rest of the cast does admirably as well. When you are staring with such a genre legend, you damn well better bring your A game, and the supporting actors do just that. There's not a weak link to be found in the movie, and many of the actors each have a shining moment in their own right. Meghan Ory carries her role as the haunted Claire with ease and Diane Salinger (Rest Stop) absolutely owns her role as Ms. Darrode, the crazy redhead systematically destroying those who dare enter her house.
The writing both fails and succeeds. The biggest flaw is the story itself. Sure, it's been told a thousand times before, but its execution is questionable. The ghost of Ms. Darrode gets into the computer equipment brought in for the holograms the haunted house offers, in order to make them real. But when she is shown on the monitor screen, it just looks awful. Like early '90s computer awful. Literally, it looks like effects of what a ghost in a computer might have looked like in two decades ago. Visually, it's just such a massive weak spot in the film and one has to wonder who looked at that and thought it looked good.
Fortunately, the dialog allows you to overlook those ridiculous scenes. It's not only self-aware, but the script does not take itself seriously at all. This really aids in the enjoyment of the film because it puts up front exactly what it is, just an enjoyable ride.
As goofy fun as Dark House is, it doesn't shy away from the gore. It suffers some in choosing to use CGI at parts, but there's enough bloodshed overall to make up for it. Considering the light-hearted tone of the movie, I was a bit surprised to see as much as they threw out, which is reminiscent of Dead & Breakfast (although nothing in House tops that awesome kitchen scene in Breakfast). The massive amount of violence in the movie amps the entertainment because, at times, it's as over-the-top as the rest of the flick.
Dark House doesn't bring anything new to the genre, not by a long shot, but hot damn is it a lot of fun and a great movie to sit back and enjoy with some friends. Easily worth a rental, and if you are a Jeffery Combs fan of any level, a solid purchase.
Video and Audio:
Dark House's 2.35:1 anamorphic presentation is a bit soft and the flesh tones were a tad orangish. The blacks, however, were suitably dark and there was no bleeding apparent. It's not a demo disc by any stretch of the imagination, but there are no major complaints.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital is a very pleasant mix. Dialog is always clean and there is a great use of the sides and rears.
- Director/Producer Commentary
- 8 Fangoria Frights
Not much but a commentary with writer/director Darin Scott and producer Mark Sonoda. It's a fun commentary, though, as Scott is very jovial and laugh-out-loud funny at parts.