Director: B. Harrison Smith
During an exclusive tour, a power breakdown inside a secret prison known as the Death House sends two agents fighting through a labyrinth of horrors while being pursued by a ruthless army of roaming inmates. As they fight to escape, the agents push toward the lowest depths of the facility where they learn a supernatural group of evil beings is their only chance for survival.
Since its release back in 2018, the film regarded to most as "The Expendables of Horror" (a title which director B. Harrison Smith had stated he was not too fond of), left genre fans utterly disappointed, having most of them state things such as the film was disappointing, all the way through to saying that it's the worst film they've ever seen.
When these scenarios arise, news feeds through social media outlets, or and personal blogs and word of mouth make it so most of what could be it's audience decides immediately that a movie of this calibre is not for them, quickly aiding in their refusal to view it for themselves.
This is an unfortunate thing as the film isn't quite as bad as most people are putting it out to be, and considering those who have seen it are claiming that it's the worst movie ever made, are clearly not watching a wide enough variety of film in order to make a true judgement call.
To begin, I will admit that the use of CGI effects through the first act of the film is somewhat off-putting, throwing the lead characters into random, and at first, unexplained situations in which they get mixed into various virtual reality scenarios with different killers. Although odd, we are quickly provided with an explanation that this "Death House" is taking this technology and using it in an attempt to rewire the brains of convicted murderers and psychopaths.
This green screen effect can easily throw a viewer off from the story, but, no need to worry as once the act is over and the power gets cut, we are quickly thrown into a wonderland of practical kills, effects, blood, guts, gore and more which goes a long way to make things more interesting visually. It's unfortunate that it doesn't really aid much in pushing the progression of the storyline, but the way everything looked was magical. From the tribute to Gunnar Hansen's Leatherface through bloody and slime-covered cannibals, these effects were beautiful!
Considering everything, Smith did his best to bring his friends vision to the big screen following his passing. The issue with this is that the story feels incomplete and lacking a clearer representation of what is truly meant to be happening.
Are the protagonists visualizing this entire story through the lens of a virtual reality system as they are the ones who are imprisoned for their actions? Are they the people who are being rewired, forcing them to believe that they are, in fact, good people and not monsters like those they are seeing around them? Or are they simply trying to make their way to safety once the power goes out and the inmates begin running the asylum?
Maybe this is an issue with the screenplay or likely, at least in my personal opinion, was a choice made by Smith and/or Hansen, to create a dialogue within the horror community of what they believe actually happened in the film, with people taking one side or another. What ended up happening in place was a series of people with nothing good to say, blasting the film before it had a true chance of spreading its wings.
My biggest take away from Death House was both the cameo appearance by Sid Haig who delivered his lines with conviction and true expertise. He stole his singular scene, hands down.
The other great thing, in my humble opinion, was the acting ability Kane Hodder put up. He was great throughout, performing in this as if it was a top-notch, big-budget film. While other well-known individuals seemed to pack it in early, Hodder kept his energy high from his first scene, straight through to his final moments on screen.
**Death House is out on Netflix streaming if you want to check it out
5 out of 10.
TRAILER (Red Band)
Have you listened to our HORROR Podcast? This week on Beyond The Void Horror Podcast. Ready Or Not (2019) Review. We talk about our thoughts on this crazy film. Spoiler free first and then full warning before we jump into spoilers and trivia. It’s a shotgun wedding and you’re invited. Check it out! Listen on iTunes Here or on Spotify here!