House of Darkness - Film Review

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Posted 2022-11-08 by Jennifer Muirheadfollow

After meeting a beautiful woman in a bar, Hap Jackson offers to drive her home. Alone at her secluded country estate he eventually begins to worry that all is not as it seems.
House of Darkness is a horror film directed by Neil LaBute (director and writer of The Wicker Man and creator of the Van Helsing TV series). It's a slow burn of a film, with the first act being taken up entirely with conversation between Hap (Justin Long, from Jeepers Creepers, Barbarian and Tusk%%), and a woman whose name he doesn't think to ask until he's already canoodling on the couch in her sitting room. That her name is Mina doesn't raise any red flags for Hap, so either Mr Stoker didn't write his book in the universe of the film or, as Mina's sister, Lucy, suggests "he's not very bright". Probably both.

The sheer awkwardness of Hap's attempts at flirting and backpedalling from his own sexist comments, is hilarious at times. The early scenes reminded me of Promising Young Woman (2020). It is almost infuriating the way Mina's seduction works precisely because Hap, a basic rich white dude, is accustomed to feeling safe wherever he goes, when most women would run a mile from this situation.

The movie has the feel of a stage play, comprised mainly of dialogue with only a couple of basic sets, which is not surprising given that the director is also a playwright. While that sounds as though it might be boring, I actually felt glued to my seat throughout. It was even scary in parts, probably helped along by the fact that as I was watching it during some epic weather, so the wind outside my window was whistling ominously through the trees.

Kate Bosworth (from Barbarian) runs rings around Hap as Mina, and Gia Crovatin (from Van Helsing) lulls him into a false sense of security as the slightly more approachable Lucy.

House of Darkness is a refreshing re-imagining of Dracula which should appeal to fans of vampire movies. It is available for video on demand through iTunes or Apple TV.

83159 - 2023-06-11 06:38:22


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