Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A House Is Not A Home Haunts The Digital Domain

Christopher Douglas Olen-Ray's latest step outside of The Asylum, A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME, hits DVD thanks to the maniacs at MVD and if you love your ghoulie ghost grooves and paranormal parasites of pain to take strange twists and turns, I think you'll find a lot to enjoy in the is abode of the evil.

Opening on Richard Greico in one very intense 911 call sequence, the stage is set to unsettle as a bloodied man tries to report a murder before taking a 666 Jump Street jump to...the other side?  Well, obviously, things did not work out for the family that probably contained all that blood, but hey... what CAN'T a realtor gloss over in a horror film?  Probably needed a big squeegee and a family that had too much dysfunction to hear any of THE RUMORS THAT EVERYONE IS SAYING ABOUT THAT HOUSE.  Lucky for the stunningly voiced presence called Paul (check out his number above!) he finds a nice family that is obviously made up of unhappy adults and a pair of teenage kids. You know, they have a lot going on too, so...  it's haunting time!

After the intense opening sequence begins to fade, the film takes a bit of time adding to the creepy vibe that ramps up the tension of a cheating husband, Ben (he sleeps on the couch...not a good sign) and an alcoholic piano teacher wife (PLAY...IT...AGAIN....), Linda as things start to get weird instead of simply uncomfortable.  The kitchen table of olde timey leather (??) appears to drink blood..or at the least repurpose said sanguinary squirtings into something more sinister.   And then, it's a house under siege by some surprisingly distressing ectoplasmic intruders.  Gricio flashes by, other apparitions appear, and some of them get slicey and grabby. Thankfully the kids see a slightly Snoopish Houngan on TV while avoiding under bed and bed desiring beasties...

The third act is a mix of familiar tropes pulled off well enough before it goes off the rails and the main concept of the haunted house is revealed. It's a clever turn that also tosses out the safety of some of the main characters to really ratchet up the tension of the finale in the best possible way.  And if you are like me and have no concept of how they made SIX Paranormal Activity films that have interminably long shots of things floating on pools...there is this...

I was hoping to see the Beast Of Biohazard running around, but...this demon is a pretty solid substitute!

A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME is interesting on a lot of levels. I really enjoyed that it was one of the few times I've seen an African American Cast in this role, but the script doesn't go out of it's way to play to any stereotypical tropes. Barring one legitimate funny little bit with a doubting father suddenly realizing that maybe they really SHOULD call the Voodoo Patrol in for help there isn't a lot of comedy, though Melvin Gregg as the son has some great reactions to bumping doors that got a chuckle out of me.  The entire cast is solid, and Gerald Webb, who also produces, carries a lot of weight to keep things moving.  Webb has appeared in many films, but holds high honors for appearing both SUPER SHARK and TWO HEADED SHARK ATTACK.  If you know why that is cool...Fins Up to you!

Christopher Ray is known for a LOT of fun Asylum films, and his time there brings several vets of that beloved institution along for the ride to great effect.  I noted that Ray's production company is called DEINSTITUTIONALIZED, and that the main men of The Asylum get thanked for, as he says in his commentary, the time off from the hardest working studio in show biz.  This film is a far cry from Two Headed Shark Attack or Mercenaries, and the smaller scale and smaller set ups show off the cinematography of Alexander Yellen, who has shot everything from zombies, sharks, tits n' topographical catastrophe over the years.  With so little space, the movie zips through the house well and carries out the "ever changing labyrinth" well.  A super bonus also goes to Knappy for a soundtrack that subtly goes from electronic soundscape to evocative piano music and back almost subliminally.  It's damn good work, worthy of the sonic powerhouse creations of Chris Ridenhour even.  High praise in my book...very.
This film will scratch your haunted house itch and be sure to look twice at some of the special effects, there are few that are tricky on the eye that I had to look back at to really take in.

Readers of Tomb It May Concern will of course know that Christopher Ray is Fred Olen Ray's son and hell, I'm writing a feature length piece on the TANYA X series in another window of my PC as I type this.  There is an interesting bit in the commentary that mentions the family pictures being looked at here are actually Fred's old photos when he was a kid, later photoshopped by THE COMPOSER OF THE SCORE (talented!) to add the house. That was neat as a bit of Ray minitua to hear.  Also, I did a quadruple take when I noticed that the director of one of my favorite films of all time (NAKED OBSESSION if you don't know), Dan Golden is the first AD! And...(there's more), I got a big smile out of seeing Brad Linaweaver, who co-wrote and appeared in THE BRAIN LEECHES is an Executive Producer. The director of this film appears in that film..in diapers!  And Chris' daughter then appears in this film.  The cinema runs deeply in that family...

A cool release from MVD, you get a commentary track, a bit of behind the scenes and a solid transfer of the film to add to your library of spooky fun for the upcoming horror holidays.

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