I have absolutely no problem admitting to people that I am a Christian. Every time I hear of a new “Christian” movie coming out, I always take note to see what the quality looks like. I’m always waiting to see if one day, a Christian-based horror movie is going to finally meet my expectations and surpass them. Over the past few years, the quality has definitely moved forward, even starting with Megiddo in my opinion. Then, they played it a bit safe with the movie version of Frank Peretti’s young adult novel, The Hangman’s Curse. It was not quite what I wanted for the next step toward legitimacy, but it wasn’t a step back either. More like an episode of Goosebumps or something. Then came Peretti’s The Visitation, which definitely pushed the envelope further forward. Then, there was Thr3e, which was the first big-screen adaptation of a Ted Dekker novel. And that brings us to the film I just saw last night. If you’ve already adapted individual movies by both Peretti and Dekker, then what’s the next logical step? You adapt House for the bigscreen. House is a novel that was written by both Peretti and Dekker, so how can you go wrong with that, right? Well, they didn’t.
The movie revolves around “a troubled couple, [who are] torn over issues about their dead child and their respective careers, blow off a counseling session and, after an accident, wind up in a strange house, where they meet two other guests, as well as the two strange proprietors. As they become aware that they’ve fallen into an evil house where their worst fears and most private secrets are known, the four guests must fight for their sanity and their survival against the terrifying, evil Tin Man.”
Director Robby Henson is obviously a fan of both Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker, as he has adapted two other films by the authors before House – The Visitation and Thr3e. I was very impressed with the camera angles and shooting effects that he used to invoke feelings of stress, panic, and uneasiness. It kind of had a Rob Zombie vibe to it. The scene that probably was the most affective for me was when he watched himself working and typing away frantically while his wife is talking on the cell phone and they both don’t notice that their daughter has broken through the ice while skating on a pond. Just watching him trying to yell at himself to stop typing and pay attention to his daughter is heart wrenching and disturbing.
The actors in the film all do a pretty good job with their roles. Bill Moseley is great in the role of the crazy “man of the house”. The old lady caretaker is convincingly creepy and definitely does her job well. All the actors handle their emotional back stories quite well. Veteran actor Michael Madsen also completely engrosses himself in his part, just as I have come to expect with any acting role he takes.
The movie has gotten a bad rap mostly because it’s been pegged as a Christian horror movie. A lot of people have tried to compare it to Saw and say it looks like a rip-off, which couldn’t be more off base. Don’t get me wrong, it has that element to it to an extent. But it also adds elements of haunted house movies like The Others with murder mystery films like Ten Little Indians and Clue. Have they completely hit the nail on the head and made a Christian movie that finally equals everything else out there in the horror genre? Not yet, but they’re getting pretty freakin’ close.