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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dark House (2009) Horror Ghosts

Dark House (2009) - Claire (Meghan Ory) is a traumatized woman, as a child she saw the horrors of a mass murder of the seven other children in a foster home. Now as an adult in college she struggles with paralyzing fear, taking medication and seeing a therapist Dr. Freeman (Tim Snay). His brilliant idea is for her to confront her fear by going into that same house, of course he adds no other supports for her, like making sure he goes with her. No just send the terrified girl back into her place of horrors and ensure her she will come out on the other side better off. Claire really wants to get over her emotional hangups, unable to form healthy relationships, and unable to be in touch fully with her feeling because of her medication she struggles in her college acting courses. In fact she has been avoiding her meds just so she can be more connected to her emotions during class.
Well wouldn't you know the opportunity arises when horror entertainment mogul Walston (Jeffrey Combs) arrives to offer the actors in Claires class a chance to work in his latest horror amusement the Dark House. He has purchased the very same house that Claire was so traumatized in and has spared no expense to
create a horror themed fun house. He needs actors to man the place though and this is an opportunity Claire for one will not pass up. She lies and says she has never been to the house even when the other actors talk about the tragic murders that took place there 12 years earlier. After convincing the rest of her class to join her off they go to see the place.
The house is something to behold with state of the art holographic technology it has a cast of terrifying characters that look so real they scare the actors. A strength of this film is the make up department headed by Megan Areford who make the non computer effects wonderfully imagined hideous in effect. After a quick demonstration of the scary holographic characters the actors learn their roles and prepare to do a run through for a couple horror amusements beat writers. ( Is there such a thing as an amusement beat writer?)
As the fun begins down in the cellar things are not going too well. Harris (Michael Albala) the computer genius who came up with the technology is killed by the ghost of the murderer Ms Darrode played with vigor by Diane Salinger. Now as he lay dying on the keyboard the
ghost enters the machine. This is such a weak part of the film, somehow it is always really cluncky when the supernatural is melded with technology.
Its probably because science has shown us there really is no such thing as the supernatural
so it challenges the logical parts of our brains when we see the two together. Writer / Director Darin Scott tries through flashing computer screen warnings to convey the idea that the evil spirit has entered the holographic programming and has corrupted the code with pure evil.
The effects of this conceit is that now the holographs will be able to kill the players in the house. Once just scary projections now they will slice dice and clobber the actors and others into pulpy messes. Here again is a weakness in the film, most of the kills in these sequences involve really shoddy computer effects that take away from the scare in really comical ways.
Like when Eldon (Danso Gordon) is attacked by the knight with the mace. Beside that fact that there is a roomfull of people who just watch instead of banding together to try to help, when he finally has he head clubbed off, the spew of bits from the computer effect is ridiculous is its fountain of red. On top of that in each scene where the CGI is featured there is never a natural consequence from it. I mean to say there are no puddles, blood smears or anything that would tell you someone died here. It really leaves the viewer uninvested in the hyper reality of the story when after a kill there is no evidence it ever took place.
It is very quickly a fight for survival and Claire is seeing it for what it is. The ghost in the machine appears to her on occasion and just terrifies her deeply.
One by one the characters are killed off until of final girl must confront the ghost and her past. Then this not quite passable film pulls the cliche that sinks it. The police arrive and find Claire in the kitchen acting crazy and stabbing the floor repeatedly. We quickly move to the explanation of the entire film. Lets me say that if as a writer you have the need to wrap things up at the end of your script by recapping the entire film, you're not doing it right. Especially when you have
Bob Pinciotti (Don Stark) from That 70's Show deliver it. In this case I am sure that the writer was very clever in what information he left out.
In the early scene when Claire was just a girl it was played to lead the audience to think she was the little girl who, on a dare, entered the scary house to find the murder scene. That scene ends when looking through a keyhole, another eye peers back. So there was a survivor from the massacre, guess which one of the two Claire is.
Wait you don't have to guess because you get an entire scene showing how she as the leader of the foster kids got all the other kids to burn their bibles and thus set off Ms. Darrode's killing spree. Lesson, never burn your bible. Christian foster mom will never be able to check to see if "Thou shalt not kill." is a commandment and so will slaughter you all. Just in case this was not enough for you to understand the story, we get a scene with the other little girl, all grown up visiting the house too. She and her boyfriend are doing exactly what Claire's therapist suggested but in a much healthier way, Claire's way as explained by the cop was to lose her mind and kill off all her actor friends. WHAT? WAIT! Yes that's right everything we say for the last hour and a half never happened. Instead Claire lost it soon after entering the house and being off her medication and worked her way through the players and employees until she was all alone.
To add emphasis to the point we finish the film with a shot of Claire in a rubber room wearing the expected straight jacket. Oh my, that did not end so well. Even though this film had Meghan Ory, who we here at Soresport movies have loved to look at since seeing her in Decoys (2004) it was just not enough to pull a recommended out of us. She can be currently seen at times in the first season of Once Upon A Time on ABC. Also recently she appeared all sexy and evil on an episode of Supernatural. A pretty face can only take you so far and all the problems with this film overwhelm any of the good.
Rating (3.3) 5.0 and up are recommended, In the Zombiegrrlz system Skip It!

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