The Haunting of Whaley House (2012)
(15) Running time: 84 minutes
Director: Jose Prendes
Writer: Jose Prendes
Starring: Stephanie Greco, Alex Arleo, Arielle Brachfeld
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
Oh The Asylum, how you can torture us at times. I do love The Asylum films, and usually they can pull off something really fantastically crap, but in a good way which has me begging for more. Where they continue to get things wrong is in their attempts to get serious, like with The Haunting of Whaley House. The Whaley House of the title is rumoured to be one of the most haunted houses inAmerica, so already there is a need for a little respect and depth of clarity here. Using such an iconic location should justify something interesting at the very least, but it doesn’t. Also, the producers chose not to actually film in Whaley House at all, however this was due to budget and location restraints.
So what we get here is a pretty weak ghost story which has some nice touches here and there, but is made far less effective by some laughable acting. The opening scene of three guys stood outside the house waiting to see a ghost is embarrassing to watch (the acting is beyond dreadful), and after a quick so-called shock we move into the story. The set up itself is pretty decent as we head back to Whaley House and meet Penny (Greco). She works at the house where guided tours are given to eager punters looking for some spooks and chills. Penny is beginning to see strange occurrences, and worries she might have some sort of connection with the house itself. Added to her problems is her group of friends want to spend the night in the house in the hope of seeing something creepy, they have even brought in some very odd man who can talk to the spirits. Trust me when I say that his acting is among some of the worst I have seen so far this year, and while it is actually hilarious to watch this man ‘pretend’ to talk to ghosts, it will also test your patience of just how far bad acting should be allowed to go. His ghost hunting partner is no better either, and man when this guy has a hissy fit over a ghost breaking his camera, it really has to be seen to be believed. To act in this sort of way, waving his arms frantically and shouting obscenities at the spirits, he would have to have been totally pissed, or someone out of shot had a gun to his head.
Now, obviously I have jumped ahead slightly here with my last comments, but yes they spend the night in the haunted house and, as with all good ghost stories, things go wrong. In the hope of actually proving ghosts exist, the group of friends have their questions answered as the dead residents of the house begin to show up. Some are friendly, some not so friendly, and the night of fun and laughs soon turns into a night of terror as the group begin to be picked off one by one. It is all very clichéd, and very predictable, but bad as this film is, it is strangely enjoyable (if you are in a patient mood!). Things do escalate, and you will find yourself growing to not so much like the cast, but you will at least route for them. Penny does make a fairly convincing lead, and if you struggle to connect with anyone, you will at least side with her.
The friendships do breakdown, and the stress of the situation causes people to fall out. Hell, one even becomes possessed in a terrible but pure B-movie sort of way: it is rubbish, you know it is rubbish but you cannot help but admire the directors love of horror. The film is littered with classic horror moments: from the stupid police arriving and being no help, to the possessed friend, doors being slammed, banging on the walls, ghostly voices and some nasty violence in places. The later moments in the film do bring the scares, and if you find the build up a bit tedious, annoying or bland, then the director shows he has talent for the future when delivering shock moments. Director Jose Prendes seems to prefer using the sudden shock tactics as opposed to the more traditional build up of music and tension. Ghosts will appear all of a sudden, and without warning and will actually catch you off guard, and could very well deliver a well crafted scare. They do not always work, but it is clear there is talent here, and with this being his first feature length film, he could very well go a long way in horror. Just give the man a bigger budget, some better actors and a half decent script.
The Haunting of Whaley House is not really all that good, but then I wasn’t really expecting it to be, but it did have moments where it really surprised me. It certainly won’t be for everyone, but those of you who really couldn’t care less about quality might very well enjoy some of this. Fans of haunted house movies will also find plenty to enjoy, if they can see past the budget restraints, and general fans of horror just might have a laugh with some beers. Mark my words this is not a good film, so if you do decide to give it a shot, expect the worst, and you just might be pleasantly surprised.