House (Robby Henson, 2007)
I didn’t realize when I started watching Robby Henson (Pharaoh’s Army)’s House that is was based on a collaborative novel between Frank Peretti (an author whose work I found, let’s say, wanting) and Ted Dekker (whose stuff I like a great deal better). In other words, it’s a “Christian movie.” With, I gotta say, a pretty durned weird cast for a “Christian movie.” But, as is usually the case, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll just finish off the opening paragraph with a great, great quote from another review, published on 9Nov2008 by a user with the nick m_walker_731: “The acting was typical Christian-movie acting. There’s an old saying in the Christian Film industry. ‘We cannot take the able and make them faithful; we must take the faithful, and God will make them able.’ This is no exception.“ Oh, that’s what I call a quotable review. (I should, since I just quoted it…)
Plot: Jack (She Hate Me‘s Reynaldo Rosales) and Stephanie (Mexican Werewolf in Texas‘ Heidi Dippold in, as of this writing, her final screen appearance) Singleton are lost on a back road, as is often the case in horror films, on their way to Birmingham, AL. Jack is driving too fast while arguing with Stephanie; we soon find out (this is not a spoiler, it’s part of the jacket copy) that their child recently died, and each of them blames the other for her death, leading to a lot of this sort of festering argument. These distractions cause a near-miss accident, the side effects of which leave their car inoperable; they wander off and stumble upon a hotel in the middle of nowhere. When they go in, they find the lights out, but also find Randy Messarue (Curse of the Komodo‘s J. P. Taylor) and his fiancee Leslie Taylor (Hitch‘s Julie Ann Emery), the owners of the BMW Jack clipped. The four of them wander around, and finally discover the place’s owners (who were down in the basement fixing the fusebox): Betty and Stewart (Leslie Easterbrook and Bill Moseley, both veterans of The Devil’s Rejects) and their creepy, possibly mentally challenged son Pete (Lawless‘ Lou Temple). Everything starts out about as normal as it can be, but the guests soon realize the inhabitants of the house—and possibly the house itself—know more about them than is possible…
And thus I find myself back at that quote. Now, if you know me in meatspace (or if you’ve been following my reviews long enough for the equivalent), this may shock you, but I did the born-again thing for a couple of years back in the mid-eighties, and as a part of that, I saw more than a handful of films from m_walker_731’s Christian Film Industry. And I’ll tell you what—things are WAY better twenty years and change later than they were back then. In 1985, the idea that someone who’d made a mark in the secular world, like Moseley or Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs), would show up in something from the C.F.I. was patently ridiculous. And now, well, here we are. Madsen and Moseley have admittedly small roles, but they’re here, and Easterbrook is just as crazy as she was in The Devil’s Rejects. I wasn’t quite as impressed with our four guests—of them, Rosales turns in the best performance by far, but there’s no one terribly embarrassing here; the industry has come a long, long way from Dino DeFilippi’s laughable performance in 1970’s The Cross and the Switchblade.
Speaking specifically as a non-Christian here (but one who, as I mentioned before, gets a kick out of Ted Dekker’s novels), I found this to be watchable, if nothing special. Another thing to note about m_walker_731’s review is the assertion that this movie will make a great deal more sense to those who’ve read the novel. There are bits where I did find myself wondering what in the world was going on, but they were brief enough; I usually had my feet pretty firmly enmeshed in the plot. Not something to avoid, but not necessarily something to go out of the way for unless you’re a big fan of one of the principals here. ** ½