Artsploitation Films: The House (2016) - Reviewed

I'm beginning to wonder where Artsploitation finds these titles and what kind of market they think will actively seek these out and buy them for a collection. Trash pictures I can see people wanting and keeping for the sake of B-movie art, but these films are ones that I wouldn't normally think of seeing even once at the first sight. The House (unrelated to the 2017 Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler vehicle) is such a dragging bore that I realized I didn't care in the least what was going to happen before even reaching the halfway mark.

It's only 88 minutes long, but is excruciatingly dull to the point where it feels twice as long. It's a story about nothing (literally!): Nazis seeking shelter with a prisoner when monsters appear and start attacking them. It's borderline pretentious in how smart it thinks it really is. In fact, I'm going to start revolutionizing how I use that word going forward. Pretentious is a word that deserves to be used on the worst of the worst films whose makers decisively believe that what they have made contains any sort of depth or interesting reasoning behind its story when it has none. The House meets all of these criteria and then some, never once picking up its snail-like pacing, despite its cover promising fear and terror to proportions never before seen.

It does try to dive into the realm of spiritualist horror in the vein of William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist, but even at that it fails to deliver anything remotely suspenseful. Loud and obnoxious noises and screams in the distance do not a scary movie make, yet The House is chocked full of them, when it's not trying to come off as some slower-paced mind-numbing fare designed to try pandering to the arthouse crowd. In fact, it almost feels like director Reinert Kiil didn't know exactly how much of each subgenre and trope in the horror lineup he wanted to cram in and homage, so he just tried to do a little bit of everything that he could get into a shorter runtime. It's admittedly an interesting endeavor, but ultimately one that doesn't become anything truly suspenseful or satisfying to its end.

Exploitation B-movies can be fun and memorable, if done right. If a proper balance between selected genres can be achieved, if an actual amount of suspense and intriguing story can be injected into a horror tale placed into a historical context without seeming too invested in its own archival recordings of WWII radio speeches that add nothing, if not repetitiveness to its atmosphere. There's actually a massive amount of potential that could have been gleaned from this kind of story- almost like a Wolfenstein adaptation set in a haunted house or something to that effect. So many things could have pointed to where this could have gone right, instead of turning it to some forgettable borefest that tries to convince you that sudden loud screams and quick cuts to black are actually frightening. Startling, yes, but actually truly terrifying? Absolutely not.

-Wes Ball