Monday, July 28, 2014

THE PERFECT HOUSE (2012)

THE PERFECT HOUSE (2012) 
Duration: 84 Minutes
Rating: Unrated 
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: Widescreen
Director: Kris Hulbert, Randy Kent
Cast: Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, John Philbin, Monique Parent, Dustin Stevens, Andrea Vahl

Having just poured through the special features on the new  SLEEPAWAY CAMP Blu-ray I was drawn to this indie horror anthology by the inclusion of Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten who both starred in that camp horror classic and feature prominently in the interviews on the disc. 

What we have here are three short anthology stories with a wrap-around, a very traditional set-up for the format. The wrap-around segment REAL ESTATE features a young couple looking for a new home - they arrive at what appears to be the titular Perfect House and are greeted by a sultry real estate agent (adult film star Monique Parent) in a short skirt who shamelessly flirts with the husband making suggestive comments while laying on a bed - it's very strange. I kept thinking what would I do if I were n that situation - it would be so uncomfortable. The couple love the home but the real estate agent says that the basement is usually a deal breaker and leads the couple to the basement where she points out a few of the houses more peculiar features which leads us on a journey into the stories past and three tales of terror unfold. 

First up is THE STORM - a twisted tale of a family taking shelter in the basement during a powerful storm. The power is out and the basement is lit my a candle where a mother, father, brother and sister sit around a candle waiting out the storm which is howling away in the background. We start to see that this is not a happy group of kin and there are dark family secrets tearing this family apart - additionally there's something in the basement hacking them up one by one. This is a good start to the film that sets a tone in a settings that is effective with some brutal violence, it's nicely done but felt a bit too short - even for an anthology entry. 

Onto CHIC-KEN we have Jonathan Tiersten as John Doesy who abducts, tortures and kills young men and woman from his quiet neighborhood. Knocking them unconscious he keeps them in cages in his basement workshop where he dispatches them like clockwork except for one young woman (Holly Greene) whom has been kept captive for five years to bare witness to his depraved deeds and for the occasional rape release. Tiersten is tolerable as the sadist but the delivery of his monologues are so monotonous - what saved this for me was Greene as the captive who both antagonizes her captor and pleads for the release of death. Some decent low-rent gore including an eyelid peeling with this one but at the end of the day this women-in-cages slice of exploitation is pretty mediocre. 

The meat of the production is DINNER GUEST starring Felissa Rose (SLEEPAWAY CAMP) and Jonathan Philbin (THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD). A family of five are summoned to a neighbors house for a dinner when things turn ugly as the discussion turns to the return of his prized weed whacker which he loaned the father some time ago. Dinner quickly turns into each of the family members tied down and tortured by the man who bares a passing resemblance to Gunnar Hansen at times. Pretty much just a series of torture set pieces as he puts each f the family members through a series of life and death games. Felissa Rose shows some decent acting chops as the screaming/grieving mothers who must watch as her family is decimated before her eyes but can do little to stop the madness unfolding. A lot of violence and screaming but very little tension - with so little build-up or character development I find it hard to care about these characters. 

At the end the wrap-around concludes and there's a brief prologue that would indicate a dark force inhabiting the home that attracts a certain type of murderess home buyer which does little to sweeten by opinion of the film. 

There are a lot of dark subject matter explored but directors Kris Hulbert and Randy Kent don't handle it a bit too bluntly.  It just feels ham-fisted and thrown on screen without a lot of thought going into it and if the execution were just a bit more considered and measured each of these segments would have a deeper impact on me, but it doesn't and at the end of the day I was not impressed. 

It would be hard to properly judge the video quality as the screener sent for review as it was a non-anamorphic DVD-R with choppy video - my viewing felt like I watching a streaming video with a poor internet connection, it was a chore to sit through. No extras on the screeners but retail versions have a commentaries, interview, behind-the-scenes stuff and more.  

As a low budget production this is not awful but the material needed to be fleshed out more - the script needed another pass to maybe get a bit more meat out of it. If I were to evaluate the film based purely on the onscreen violence this would get decent marks but it only scratched the surface of what this could have been with a more thoughtful approach. 

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