This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be much more negative
It’s time to look at a horror/comedy which often times seems to be the best way to handle the genre. It’s a pretty interesting blend of the two genres and one that I think works rather well to be honest. The songs really help as well and the movie does a good job of just never getting too exaggerated. It’s a rare exception to the trope of most horror films being terrible. Of course, since it is part comedy do you wonder a bit if it really counts. I’m actually surprised that it’s R because it didn’t seem all that violent or to have much objectionable content. I’m assuming a lot of it must have been language or something in which case I would naturally rescind my statement that the writing is pretty good in this film, but as mentioned earlier I am specifically reviewing the edited version and as such my recommendation to watch it is only to be applied to that one.
The film starts off with Roger having a pretty awful time of it lately. His wife left him which is always unfortunate. His son went missing a few years back and his aunt died. He’s also on tough times financially as he hasn’t been able to write a new book in a very long time and is just out of ideas. Ah well, he at least gets to inherit his Aunt’s house (Along with her wealth, but he spends a lot of it on cameras) which is supposed to be haunted. Roger doesn’t believe in ghosts, but that may prove to be irrelevant.
One positive that is really apparent here is the monster’s design. She actually has a real design and isn’t just hiding the whole time. She shows up to taunt Roger and even speaks. I admit that I was actually a little shocked when she started talking but certainly in a good way. Then she took out the shotgun and I knew that this wasn’t your average horror villain. She wasn’t relying on cheap reality warping tricks or any of that. She was just fighting Roger in hand to hand combat and making it look easy.
The rest of the monsters here are also pretty cool. You need to see the way the bat twirls around his gun before using it to break the rope Roger is clinging to. That took a lot of skill and the monster world is probably the best one that I’ve seen since Insidious. It’s definitely a highlight and seeing Roger take them on is the best part of the film. I also liked the fact that he used the floating knives in the first room he was in to take on the monster. Usually that trick won’t work, but it’s always worth trying.
There is one subplot that does drag on and isn’t as fun as the rest though, that’s the Vietnam part of the story. We see that Roger used to be in the army and was in a tough squad. They were thrown into a suicide squad where Roger abandoned his teammate to the enemy and ran home. Naturally he feels rather guilty about this and it has haunted his psyche for a very long time. It’s a subplot that feels rather unnecessary. Of course it does end up affecting the main plot by the end so I guess they felt it was good for the twist, but I think it wasn’t needed. I also do think the ghost has a good reason to be mad at Roger because Roger definitely made the wrong call there. Finishing off the guy would have been the wrong move as well. Abandoning and finishing off someone are always the wrong calls. The only right move there would have been to stay and fight until the last man.
Back to the main plot, we also get a random next door neighbor who wasn’t really needed. She is basically just added for the misdirect which is meant to be comedic and some fanservice. Neither of which are good reasons for her inclusion in the first place. Take away her annoying kid and her 3 minutes of screen time and the film wouldn’t really change. Meanwhile, Roger’s ex-wife is a far better character who is a lot more interesting in her short minutes of screen time. I was actually a little worried when she first showed up and Roger took out the Shotgun. If that had actually been her then the film would have crossed that line between being funny and dark which would have been tragic. Fortunately the film handled it pretty well so the twist worked quite well. It was handled pretty well also since I wasn’t exactly sure if it would be played straight or not.
Of course I can’t end a review of this film without mentioning the great music. This may have the best soundtrack from any horror film. That instant where Roger takes down the monster is made perfect when the cool lyrical song starts playing. The timing is perfect and the song is pretty inspirational so it just works so well. We also get another song later on which is quite good as well. The monster’s regenerative abilities prove to be a little tricky afterwards, but Roger did a good job of trying to think everything through. Even chopping the monster into many pieces was definitely a good idea to at least slow it down.
Overall, House was actually pretty fun. It poked fun at the usual horror tropes and did a good job of exploiting them without overdoing it. Roger is a better main character than most of the actual horror leads and the monster is also a step up from normal. This movie basically did everything right. It mat have juggled too many subplots at times and lost focus of what was actually happening, but in the end the pacing was solid and the plot was interesting. The writing was surprisingly good and so was the cast. This could be my new go 2 when recommending a horror film to someone.