House Of Darkness review: A brilliantly executed toothless vampire thread

The modern dating scene can be murderous. You meet someone at an event, club, bar… you never know if you’re seeing them for real. Can you. What lies beneath the surface of your drunken interlocutor? Are they kind? Better than what you’re seeing? Or more likely, they’re worse? And for women who meet men, this is certainly a potentially terrifying outcome. “House of Darkness” revolves around a completely ironic subversion of that dreaded common situation. Here, a man drives a woman home from a bar to her secluded villa and finds himself surrounded by powerful women, the promiscuous become a hunted target at night. late.

While horror fans may know better writer-director and playwright Neil LaBute with his ill-fated “The Wicker Man” remake, games about relationships, power and Their consequences are frequent themes in his broader film. “House of Darkness” fits that setting very well, but here with a twist inspired by the long brides of Dracula’s lore. There’s quite a bit that works about “House of Darkness,” including a strong central cast that delivers nuanced performances, some powerful dialogue moments, and a well-developed eerie tone. . At the same time, the film is beset with a series of missed opportunities… it’s a heavy homage to the world, and Dracula’s brides are a little appalled at their vampire glory. . Even so, the character work is intriguing, it’s the vampire thread that can leave a sour taste in a horror lover’s mouth where there should be blood.

The carnivorous cycle is fair game when the brides are out


In “House of Darkness”, we meet Hap Jackson (Justin Long) and Mina Murray (Kate Bosworth) on their way to their secluded home after a night of drinking. The pair met at a bar, and it’s clear from the start there’s an acting dynamic that persists for much of the film. Hap pretends to be chivalrous, a facade plastered with an obvious desire to sleep a beautiful woman. He seems to be the type to go after any woman he finds as beautiful, but on this night, he and Mina mysteriously end up on a fateful journey. Long plays a charismatic womanizer whose vanity shows up in insensitive moments, immediately removed by a man who wants to sell another version of himself.

As much as when Hap insisted on being clothed in his virtue, Mina seemed to exist to pull the loose strings of that cloak, leaving him naked. Bosworth plays an elusive yet tactically aloof character, portraying a Mina who knows what she wants but still defends her motives. Mina’s sport here is toying with Hap to reveal the limits of the stories he tells about himself, the back and forth process continuing as the two step out of the car and into the mansion dark countryside. The odd courtship is interrupted by subtle macabre moments when Hap hears a sound, is spooked by strange sounds, or sees a figure lurking in the dark. Just when things seem to be going the way he always seems to have planned, the romantic ending is interrupted by Mina’s blunt but seemingly serious sister Lucy (Gia Crovatin), who (all) Of course) Hap finally came to flirt. of disturbing interactions. Hap settles into a nightmare dream, possibly foreshadowing. Discover that the three interlocutors are not alone in the massive mansion. A ghost story with a menacing twist. Here, LaBute shows a powerful ability to cast a sophisticated menacing tone in moments that worked well for most of “House of Darkness’s” run. The subtlety in the interactions between the characters in these moments is also one of the film’s strongest points. They add subtle nuances to underpin a dialogue (convincingly delivered for the most part) that is otherwise somewhat contradictory, flipping back and forth between subtlety and bluntness. unbelievable way. LaBute has a point to say here, the inverse of power dynamics between predatory men and the women they seek, and he will drown you in the film’s one-sided themes. before you have a moment to forget the message.

A series of dialogues featuring the scent, horror and lightness of Dracula


The film’s dedication to its themes is admirable, but just as it keeps “House of Darkness” in focus, it also drowns out anything else the film might have had. Okay. On the one hand, the pervasive sense of fear and associated unsettling moments are welcome. On the other hand, much of the movie is a collection of characters talking for quite some time, with the only horror beat happening in the finale. Also a movie inspired by Dracula’s brides, but Dracula’s legacy can’t really be found. Instead of a full-scale celebration of Dracula’s Brides, we’re leaving for a Dracula-scented chat.

The scale and addition of your standard movie about the classic Vampire and his powerful brides are also gone. It was shot at Arkansas’ Dromborg Castle, a setting they really made effective by casting local in the dark, but we spent most of our running time in a room watching the characters talk. in gently repeating circles. It’s a delightfully intellectual subversion to conventional dating stories, but the subject implications are muddied because Hap’s on-screen transgressions aren’t worse than the wrong ones. implied until his life was actually threatened.

Overall, “House of Darkness” is a very mixed drama. The script changes from nuance to nuance depending on the minute you’re watching, but the central performances add a layer of complexity that’s often worth watching. The film’s tone is well handled, with a pervasive sense of horror, but it doesn’t build anything like real horror. If the conceptual shift of a promiscuous person whose tables are filmed murderously is enough, it could be what viewers are looking for. On the other hand, if the audience is looking for bigger scares, higher beats, Dracula, or a little less conversation, a little more action, “House of Darkness” is all but guaranteed to make you want.

/ Movie rating: 6 out of 10

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