Running Time: 110 mins
Reviewed by: David Gillespie – Official HCF Artist
The strength of Asian horror films such as The Grudge, Pulse, Shutter and Dark Water was the ability to get under the viewer’s skin in a stylish and original manner. Rather than bombasting the viewer with gore and violence, Asian horror relied on good old fashioned scares. After the success of The Ring, the west had an appetite for vengeful ghosts and pasty faced children but similar to the new wave of found footage movies, the Asian horror category, incorporating J-Horror and K-Horror, was becoming more than a little stale. Having been originally released in 2007, The House has taken a long time to gain a DVD release in the United Kingdom. The question is why has it taken so long to be released?
A young female reporter called Chalinee (Intira Jaroenpura) is becoming frustrated with the unsavoury stories that her bosses have her working on. Her curiosity gets the better of her when her latest project , involving the murder of three young women by their lovers, draws her to the house in which the crimes took place. On arrival at the property she witnesses a figure at the window but when she goes to film with her camera, the figure vanishes. While investigating the interiors she is confronted by the apparition of one of the murders. A scene so grisly and repellent that she passes out. Some time later her husband finds her unconscious body and unfortunately for the couple, something very sinister finds him too. When Chalinee wakes up in hospital both she and her husband appear fine. Yet she finds that he displays jealous and very aggressive behaviour at the smallest thing. When Chalinee interviews a doctor who previously killed his wife at the house, he explains that they should never have ventured into the property and that her husband is now being guided by evil spirits.
The main problem with The House is originality. You have seen all of this before in previous releases. After a sucessfully creepy and patient first third, the story and scares become patchy and repetitive with putrid ghouls jumping out at regular intervals. During films like Ringu, the female ghost was used sparingly creating more tension and fear. By the final quarter of The House, the female ghost is jumping out at you in 20 seconds intervals resulting in boredom.
There are some strengths to the production though. The evil spirits that possess the souls of those who enter the house are truly creepy. They are slightly reminiscent of the Dementors in the Harry Potter series but with less of a sense of humour. Ironically the soundtrack resembles some of the creepier moments of the John William’s Harry Potter score also. For a J-Horror effort there is plenty of top quality gore effects hitting the camera. Most of the latter revolves around the tortured female ghoul who coughs up slime and projects large pools of blood around the place whenever Chalinee is in the area.
The performances are fine for the most part. Perhaps the lead character’s insistence on screaming at every possible moment does get rather tedious too.
Although it adds next to nothing to the classic horror films that have been released from the Asian market during the last decade, The House is a gory, creepy and stylishly made chiller with a satisfying resolution. If it had been edited to a leaner running time it might have been in the very good category.