Three young girls are riding their bikes through their neighbourhood and they stop at the gate of house of Janet Garrode (Diane Salinger). Two of the girls think it is creepy, but the third girl knows it is just a foster home. To prove there’s nothing to fear she goes right up to door and goes in. The children are all dead, lying in pools of blood everywhere.She hears a sound from the kitchen and goes through to see Garrode standing at the sink with her hands down the waste disposal unit with blades grinding her hands away until she dies from blood loss. The girl hears a noise from the pantry and looks through the key hole and sees an eye looking back at her, she screams and turns to run but slips in puddle of blood and knocks herself out as she falls.
We flash forward 14 years to the present. Acting student Claire (Meghan Ory) wakes from a nightmare. She discusses her nightmares with her psychiatrist who raises the subject of her traumatic childhood experiences in the Garrode house. He asks if she has visited the house, but Claire says she too afraid. The psychiatrist just leaves it at that, no suggestion that he visit the house with her.
At her acting class they are all doing an acting excercise when they are interrupted by Wilston Rey (Jeffrey Combs), a horror house creator who makes a big entrance and offers them jobs at his latest horror attraction acting as performers. They all act a bit snooty at this offer but then he mentions that it is at the Garrode house. He needs actors in a hurry because he is giving a special preview of the house to two journalists. Claire right away sees her chance to visit the Garrode house in the company of her friends and talks her classmates into taking the jobs.
Her classmates are the standard pack of shallow stereotypes of horror film victims: Ariel (Bevin Prince) is blonde, attractive and a bitch, who’s jealous of Claire; Rudy (Matt Cohen) is hunky but bit of a dick, and he fancies Claire; Eldon (Danso Gordon) is the black guy and is also cultured and nerdy and may as well have a bullseye on his forehead; Lily (Shelly Cole) is the goth girl who mopes about whining; Bruce (Ryan Melander) is the immature joker.
At the Garrode house Rey introduces the actors to head usher Moreton (Scott Whyte) and Samantha (Meghan Maureen McDonough) the designer and takes them around the house and introduces them to the magical holograms that seem to have been created by technology stolen by Weyoun from Starfleet and brought back in time through some sort of temporal anomaly*. They are suitably impressed by the technology that is being run by Harris the whingeing nerd that Rey keeps locked in the basement. While they are being shown the computer centre Claire sees the ghostly image of the dead foster children gathered around the furnace in the corner of the basement.
After the tour they are sent to get ready for the journalists’ preview. In her room Claire has a vision in the dressing table mirror of Garrode brutally punishing a little boy and is shocked out of her vision when Garrode turns to look directly at her and shouts “What are you looking at?”
Once they are ready Rey gives them a flowery, well-rehearsed pep talk on the philosophy and art of scaring people. Meanwhile Garrode’s spirit somehow invades the computer system with a lot of cheesy graphics and a lot wild-haired manic laughter from Garrode. This scene is just rubbish and it is not creepy or horrific at all. Harris is killed when a monitor blows up in his face.
Claire is in charge of taking the journalists around the house with Moreton accompanying them. Moreton leads them to the Corridor of Blood and a holographic wraith with long fingernails lurches toward and him stabs him in the chest. To his shock he realises he really has been stabbed and he dies. Claire almost believes it was real but when she looks back and his body is gone she is convinced it was all an act and she continues the tour
The film continues with Garrode using the holograms to kill everyone of one at time. This would have been quite good but it all happens in a rush and there is really more of a mad dash that a build-up of tension.
I like Jeffrey Combs and I did his like his performance as Walston Rey which calls for really over the top hammy showman. Diane Sallinger is really scary as the psycho religious nut with her shock of unkempt red hair. The rest of the cast are passable. What I wasn’t too keen on was the script itself . Most of the characters are barely written at all. Why did Samantha have to be a predatory lesbian? It didn’t really make difference to the story except to irritate so I am curious. There is a twist of sorts at the end but it is so meaningless and inconsequential I wonder why they bothered. The effects were okay if a bit obviously CGI but that dumb cheap-looking computer possession scene was poor. It’s all right but not really scary apart from couple of jump scares
*These are references to the Star Trek Deep Space Nine where Jeffrey Combs played an alien called Weyoun.
- Fangoria FrightFest Winner Announced: Dark House! (dreadcentral.com)