Written by Diane Tillis
If you happen to be a loyal fan of B-horror films, like I am, then you are going to want to check out Dark House. For those who have never heard of the ‘B-horror film’ concept, here is a little education!
There are several differences between Hollywood horror films and B-horror films. Hollywood horror films are better known to larger audiences, have nice-sized budgets, and tend to be released around the Halloween season. B-horror films are usually straight to DVD or shown at select independent theaters, such as Grindhouse theaters. They have much smaller budgets, are exploitative of other popular genres, and attract smaller audiences. B-horror films are like the made-for-television films of the SYFY channel. Many people watch them because it is three o’clock in the morning and the last thing you want to watch on television are infomercials on how to lose 30 pounds with the latest fitness gadget. However, B-horror films do attract a certain kind of audience who will search out these films to watch on a daily basis. I happen to be a loyal fan of B-horror films, and Dark House is going to become a part of my collection.
Dark House opens to a collection of dolls along a black background and a young child reciting lines from the Bible. Then the young child screams in terror and the dolls get covered in blood. Three young girls come across a spooky Victorian home. The bravest of the three ventures into the home to find several murdered children. In the kitchen, a creepy older woman with wild red hair has stuck her hands into the garbage disposal and dies in front of the girl. The doorknob of the kitchen closet begins to move, and the little girl goes to investigate. As she looks though the keyhole, an eye looks back at her. Frightened, she tries to run away, but slips on the bloody floor and bangs her head.
The film then cuts to troubled Claire (Meghan Ory) waking up from a nightmare. She has scars on her wrists and bottles of sedatives in the bathroom medicine cabinet. We learn after a visit with her psychologist that Claire witnessed the massacre 14 years ago. She has spent these years tortured by nightmares and panic attacks to the point that she has nearly given up hope. Hope returns to her through her acting career and freedom from the side effects of the prescribed sedatives. Her psychologist suggests that Claire should return to the haunted house to regain her memory of the event. Obviously, Claire is opposed to this course of treatment.
Claire is a part of a small group of thespians learning to hone their craft. The group consists of the usual horror-stereotypical characters: the fake blonde girl, the emo brunette girl, Claire as the mysterious and mentally unstable girl, the attractive jock who likes Claire but can never have her, the borderline geek, and the black guy. The group is practicing a ‘be honest’ exercise when a mysterious showman interrupts to offer them a job. Our mysterious showman is the wonderful Jeffery Combs, who is very popular among the B-horror film world. The showman discusses his new walk-through show at the historic haunted house and is in desperate need of actors to impress two big-time journalists. Claire views this as her opportunity to face her fears.
The show’s special effects are created with holograms and digital technology. Each room is a different performance, from talking severed heads to demon autopsies. As the journalists travel though the show, the spirit of the woman who killed all the children infects the computers. Her ‘virus’ sends the holograms on a killing spree. Claire and her friends soon realize that a demonic force has taken over the home, locking them all inside, and killing them one by one till the spirit traps her main target – Claire. There is a nice big twist in the end that I will not ruin.
This isn’t an amazing film. In fact, many people will think it is a bit boring, although if you are a B-horror film fan, you will find certain parts entertaining. The dialog is witty with a chuckle or two mixed in. The computer graphics are nothing special, but I’ve seen worse. You could easily skip the first 30 minutes till the actors and Claire arrive at the haunted house. I did enjoy it and will probably watch it again in a few months. I would give it a rental rating to anyone who is mildly interested in B-horror films.