Trashhouse Movie Review
Written by Daniel Benson
Released by Jinx Media
Written and directed by Pat Higgins
2005, 82 minutes, Not Rated
Amber Moelter as Lucy Sweet
Tom Wontner as David Holman
Richard Collins as James Todd
Sam Burke as Della
Hannah Speller as Charlotte Graves
Oli Wilkinson as Luke Pearson
Cy Henty as Agent Allan
What would you do if you could create anything at all, just by thinking about it?
Five strangers get the chance to find out when they are invited to Fallows House to test an experimental implant which can make their thoughts reality. The group has been specially selected by a statistical computer called STACY, which has tagged them as the most well balanced individuals in the country.
But computers get things wrong. And this time STACY has got something very wrong indeed; one of the group is not at all well balanced, he's a borderline psychopath with a history of violent behavior and murder.
After the group is explained the rules — the chip is active between 7am and 10pm, and only in their respective rooms — they set out to make real everything they've ever wanted. Lucy Sweet creates a perfect picture of 1950's domesticity, just like the home she grew up in. David Holman is at a loss for ideas, so he creates a replica of his own flat with the addition of endless money. Charlotte Graves has a thirst for knowledge and expects to find a cure for all known fatal illnesses by the end of the project. Luke Pearson takes a slightly less humanitarian approach and plans to "knob every centrefold since 1993".
While the others create their ultimate desires, James Todd is exorcising his own demons with a girl he admired from afar, but never had the courage to approach. Because she is created by his mind, she exhibits all the contempt for him that he imagines she would. This drives James over the edge and, after hacking into the computer controlling the project, he creates a nightmarish world of zombies, ghouls and monsters to further his plan to kill the residents and blow up the house.
When watching low budget movies, it's a big achievement if the feature can keep my itchy trigger finger from leaning on the remote's skip forward button. Pat Higgins' directorial debut, the wonderfully lurid TrashHouse not only kept my finger under control, it had me skipping backwards to catch a few scenes for the second time.
You see, the film is fantastically well written; a simple but original storyline coupled with some genuinely funny dialogue, delivered by a cast with a reasonable amount of talent make TrashHouse stand out as a shining example of great low budget cinema. There were several times during the film I found myself laughing out loud, something few movies make me do. As well as a few good lines from the main cast, there are frequent giggles provided by Brian and Andy, the two technicians who monitor the activity in the house from their tiny computer room. For two minor characters they have some of the funniest lines in the film.
The rest of the cast play out their individual roles with respectable competance. Lucy Sweet (Amber Moelter) isn't, as you might expect, a lost character from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, but a straight-laced American and unlikeley hero of the story. David Holman (Tom Wontner) is a rather pompous character whose outspoken views are only silenced by the offer of a cash reward and the possibility of some sugar from Ms Sweet. Charlotte Graves (Hannah Speller) is the geek of the group, but is happy enough in her own endeavours to forget about what the others may be doing. Luke Pearson (Oli Wilkinson) is a walking gland, and uses the experiment for nothing but personal gratification. Despite being one of the minor characters in the film, Oli stands out as very natural and confident in front of the camera and conveys the perfect picture of a guy let loose on anything his mind can imagine. Finally, James Todd (Richard Collins) is a convincing psychopath who starts out reclusive and becomes more embittered as his psyche tortures him with memories from his past.
For a first timer, Pat Higgins displays some interesting use of the camera and there were frequent occasions when I noticed how the camera angle had been used to increase the impact of certain scenes, something I rarely pay attention to in films. The majority of the movie was shot in a business unit on the south coast of England, meaning that every room and hallway shown in the film was built as a set — and sometimes it shows. In the scene where the participants are introduced to the experiment I was overly distracted by the crinkly wallpaper in the background, and found myself thinking "they should've brushed that out while it was wet". I'll be more than happy to impart decorating tips for future Jinx Media productions.
Once the action gets going in the house, the assorted throng of zombie doctors, psycho clowns and undead freaks is played by enthusiastic extras and set hands, adorned in old school special effects make-up. For a couple of monsters, Pat Higgins has chosen — perhaps unwisely — to opt for CGI.
I'm not a fan of CGI. CGI has to be done very well to impress me and if Industrial Light and Magic can fall short of the mark, you can be certain that a low budget film-maker with a home PC is going to. It's a bit of a let-down, but taken in context with the film's frequent tongue-in-cheek silliness, it doesn't look too out of place.
It would be a minor miracle that a movie shot in two and a half weeks on a minute budget would be without flaws and, while this movie has a few, they are totally insignificant due to the fact the whole package knits together so well. Trashhouse has Boobs, Blood, Belly Laughs and a Big-Ass Chainsaw. What more does the discerning horror fan need?