Evan Marlowe’s Horror House is an anthology horror film where all five of the stories take place in, or are related to, the same house. Presiding over the tales is the real estate agent, played with exceptional glee and charisma by Troma’s own Lloyd Kaufman, whose job it is to warn potential buyers about the property’s history. Which he does, by sharing the following stories.
“Never Let Go” tells the story of a young girl with an evil sister bent on murdering their mother (it’s a bit more complicated then that but, for the sake of brevity and wanting to keep the review spoiler-free, I’m going to keep things brief for all segments); “Be Careful What You Wish For” is a neo-noir tale about tarot cards and a relationship doomed by its own secrets; “Hot Stuff” is about an ego-centric womanizer who goes a bit too far with his abusive behavior; “Lifelike” focuses on a girl who finds more to relate to in her Japanese doll than her dysfunctional family life; and “The Leapling” is a modern day fairy tale about a monster that snatches and eats one young boy on February 29th.
It’s weird to think about a horror anthology in this way, but the first thing that popped into my head while watching Horror House was that it was family-friendly horror. What I mean by that is, even though some subjects are a bit more challenging than others (“Lifelike,” for example, addresses domestic and sexual abuse), for the most part I could imagine seeing this on television, as it is, unedited. In other words, it has more in common with The Twilight Zone or the old Friday the 13th television series than it does a gore-friendly experience like The Theatre Bizarre.
To that end, the tales are creepy, sometimes scary, but never terribly frightening or gory. Of course, that doesn’t mean the film isn’t extremely entertaining. While it wasn’t like what I would expect from a horror anthology film, it was fun to watch and none of the segments drag; instead, each has a distinct flavor to enjoy. “The Leapling,” for example, gets very artistic and interesting with its visual aesthetics, enhancing the story book feel of the tale (even though the actual story book being read isn’t going to win any production design awards).
As far as horror tales go, Horror House is decidedly light fare, but that does not make it a bad film. Instead, it’s a fairly interesting experience and overall quite entertaining. Plus, come on, who doesn’t love Lloyd Kaufman? As essentially the Crypt Keeper role, Kaufman has never been more charismatic and is a brilliant bit of casting on the filmmakers’ part.
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