The Scarehouse follows two ex-sorority girls who have been betrayed by their former sisters. The ladies set out to take revenge on those they perceive as having wronged them by putting together an impressively elaborate haunted attraction solely for the purpose of enacting their revenge plot and confronting the sisters with whom they have issues. It’s anyone’s guess as to who will live and who will die.
I am actually surprised that I liked this film. I had relatively low expectations going in and I actually did not particularly care for the first 25 minutes of the picture. I found the characters hard to warm up to and thought that a lot of the dialogue at the front end was overly precious. Moreover, some of the gross out gags went too far and started to get on my nerves a bit. I don’t want to see someone squeezed until their stomach acid comes pouring out. Some things are best left to the imagination. However, once you get past some of the shortcomings in the first act, there’s a lot to like. The performances and the dialogue both get better as the film progresses. Also, a lot of the gross out gags are at the front end and the second and third acts are more character driven. As the picture progressed, I found myself warming up to the characters and laughing at some of the ridiculous things that came out of their mouths. The film builds to a twisted ending that is simultaneously disturbing and satisfying.
The Scarehouse is directed by Gavin Michael Booth and co-written by Booth and his wife Sarah Booth. It stars Sarah Booth (Hemlock Grove), Kimberly-Sue Murray (Being Human), and several relative newcomers including Katherine Barrell, Teagan Vincze, and Emily Alatalo. I am mostly impressed by what The Booths were able to do on a limited budget. As I said before, the film has its faults but it looks like a more expensive production than it actually was and in spite of not having a lot of feature experience, Gavin Michael Booth comes across as a competent director. Moreover, the script that he and his wife Sarah co-penned boasts an interesting premise and gets a lot right.
Much like the viewer’s relationship with the characters, the script also improves as the running time ticks down. As we learn more about the events leading up to the protagonists seeking revenge against their former sisters, the easier it is to get behind them. The story is told in nonlinear fashion–with flashback sequences–and that is part of what kept me from getting on board right away. The Scarehouse takes too long to give us a reason to like its leads. Had their motivations been evident from the get go, it would have been as if the viewer were along for the ride the whole time rather than only getting clued in during the tail end of the first act.
One of the interesting things about this picture is that it employs elements of the found footage style of storytelling but it’s not a found footage film. It uses a select amount of POV shots but is not overly reliant on them. The end result is something of a compliment to the picture. It makes the viewer feel like they have a front row seat for the action in certain scenes but it doesn’t become gimmicky because the technique is used sparingly enough not to alienate the audience.
On a side note, those vehemently opposed to the use of the c-word will perhaps want to sit this one out. This film uses that word almost as frequently as Joe Pesci says f**k in Casino.
All in all, in spite of its shortcomings, this is a film that will appeal to horror fans. Maybe not all horror fans but this picture definitely has its strong points and most genre film enthusiasts will enjoy it for what it is. This is popcorn entertainment with a twisted revenge plot line. Check it out tomorrow (January 13th) on iTunes and other VOD platforms.
WICKED RATING: 5.5/10
Director(s): Gavin Michael Booth
Writer(s): Gavin Michael Booth, Sarah Booth
Stars: Sarah Booth, Kimberly-Sue Murray
Release: iTunes and VOD January 13, 2015
Studio/ Production Co: Universal
Length: 83 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Revenge, Torture