Dark House (Darin Scott, 2009)
IMDB lists three movies with the title Dark House. Interestingly, all of them came out in 2009. There’s Wojciech Smarzowki’s Polish thriller, Will Koopman’s Dutch stalker flick, and Darin Scott’s American haunted-house story. I haven’t seen the other two, so I’m not 100% certain about this, but I would still lay money on the proposition that Darin Scott’s is the worst of the three.
Plot: an attraction mogul, Walston (Re-Animator‘s Jeffrey Combs), buys a supposedly haunted house in generic suburban America and plans to turn it into a modern haunted house attraction. To that end, he rigs it up with all sorts of lovely computers in the basement and a bunch of revolutionary effects (big problem with the movie #1: “revolutionary effects” and “bad CGI” really, really do not mix) (oh, and big problem #2: why did all the ghosties not come out and attack all the workmen installing this stuff, who would have had to have been there for weeks, if not months?) and hires a team of young-and-beautifuls as tourguides, models, and folks to dress up. The usual haunted house shtick. Except, of course, the house is really haunted, and one of said young-and-beautifuls, Claire (Once Upon a Time‘s Meghan Ory), has a connection to the house, and the events therein, that she did not disclose…which makes her a conduit for the nasty goings-on. Or something.
It’s actually not a bad little idea, if not one that’s anything new. But Scott, better known as a producer (on much better films, e.g. Menace II Society), wrote such a ham-handed script, and then cast actors with so much more of an eye towards budget than ability, that even the best idea would have gone horribly wrong. I’m not going to say it’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t even the worst movie I watched that week (my spreadsheet informs me I had been traumatized by Parasitic just three days before). The young and beautifuls are, in fact, young and beautiful, even if most of them couldn’t act their collective way out of a paper bag, and when Scott abandons the amateurish CGI and goes for the good old-fashioned gore effects, with rubber prosthetics and squibs, you can convince yourself, for a few minutes at least, that there’s a good time to be had here. But unfortunately, those bits are few and far between. **