Streaming Releases: House on Rodeo Gulch (2017) - Reviewed

Perhaps the hardest part of reviewing movies comes when you see something that you know someone poured their heart into and it turns out to be an unnervingly hard project to get through. 

With the case of House on Rodeo Gulch, you can feel the director's love for movies like Disturbia, The House at the End of the Street and numerous other suburban thrillers that pit their leads against some type of mysterious force. Unfortunately for this little digital film, neither the subject matter, acting talents, or direction are strong enough to carry a ninety minute feature that had almost no budget whatsoever. Creator William Scherer definitely has balls for trying to make a full length movie for his first outing. Sadly though, this thing is a creative mess. 

House on Rodeo Gulch is an amalgamated non-thriller that tries too many things all at once. The story isn't well planned enough and many areas that are meant to carry emotional weight feel devoid of presence or the skills to pull this off. Starting with the young Megan Jay, an approximation of Jennifer Lawrence from the movie mentioned above, is definitely the most talented of the bunch. While she's never given much to chew on, she has the strongest performance here and does her damnedest to outshine the shortcomings of the script. Long running actress and model Chanel Ryan is definitely stunning throughout but lacks the charisma to carry this type of role. The other characters including the obsessive priest just fall by the wayside with talents not befitting a high school play. 

Guns don't kill people. Teenage girls kill people. 

The hardest thing to accept as a viewer is knowing that there is probably a much better story here. The themes about a religious zealot wanting to reclaim their property at the potential cost of lives and human damage is actually a great idea. If there had been a hard rewrite to pull the best elements from the story into a more fluid script, Scherer may have been able to make a much better movie. Adding to the many problems with the story is a bad edit that lacks any style or notion that the camera is a tool that can be used to create artistic shots. Other than a cool exterior scene at the beginning, this is just plain as day. And the audio mix makes this almost unbearable to watch at times. Overdubs are off. Voices aren't mixed properly. And the general sound design is amateurish at best. 

We get a lot of low budget screeners at The Movie Sleuth. And we try to give everyone a fair shake. It's our job to be honest with the people that hand us these movies. Sadly, House on Rodeo Gulch currently sits on the bottom rung of the indie flick ladder. There's definitely some heart behind this movie, but it's nowhere near being ready for a full release yet. The visual effects are not ready for the mainstream. The mix needs more engineering. And the acting.....well, we're not sure what can be fixed about that.