Warnings: Grue on a budget caps included.
Scene 41: From within the basement, we watch as Skalker and Skalker-Lite find their way to a window they can open to let themselves in. Canted-Angle Cam watches as they skalk their way in. A random tennis racket hung on a wall twitches [I think we've discussed the random moving objects -- ENOUGH].
They stand a little too close to one another, wordlessly [Yep --- They just became my Slash-Objects, for as long as they last anyway]. Skalker-Lite sees something on the other end of the basement of interest. They head on over that-a-way without speaking.
Various sharp implements about the basement slide around on their hooks. They head up the basement stairs with their minds on home invasion.
[Just presume that when we're in the basement or the music room from now on, objects are twitching about and no one notices. It'll be easier on my fingers that way.]
Dead Bride appears to Skalker-Lite at the top of the stairs. He rushes back down with a yell, leaving Skalker puzzling what the matter is, and being not at all worried about yelling about it. They make a dash for the window entrance, but Dead Bride isn't about to let them take their leave without some vengeance for their trespass.
Implements fly across the basement - an axe takes off Skalker's hand, just as he's made it out of the window. Skalker-Lite doesn't get that far, as a pitchfork flies across the room and pins him by the throat to a beam. The Dead Bride laughs and laughs.
Scene 42: Skalker makes it outdoors and screams as his wrist continues to spray blood. Inside, Skalker-Lite continues writhing as a pair of scissors continually punctures him in his abdomen. He's disemboweled, his surprisingly stringy intestines being slowly yanked from him.
Skalker outside continues to scream in pain as blood loss stops his retreat and he sinks to the ground. His last sight is through the window as Skalker-Lite's body is dragged deeper into the basement.
Commentary: This scene didn't quite work as well as unfortunate Rose's, but it's not only because of the Halloween Tricks level special effects on display. For some reason Andy decided to go overboard with the creep music and sound effects, and it was way too loud to be entirely effective. In addition, he manages to make the Dead Bride a bit dull because of his need to continually show her laughing over and over and over... WE GET IT, SHE'S MAD, DEAD, AND ANGRY ABOUT IT.
Our dying criminals also make a ridiculous amount of noise that somehow nobody hears without explanation.
Scene 43: The following morning is the Saturday Housewarming. A car pulls up at the curb and honks as it's parking.
From the house runs the happy couple and a pair of their friends. The new arrivals are Ann and Walter.
Scene 44: After a shot of the house, again, we go inside. There we find ... uh... a girlfriend in a room touching up her makeup. In a bathroom, Walter is bare-chested for some reason and checking himself out in a mirror.
[Okay...? A guess? Her friends are staying the weekend and the whole day has gone by offscreen. This is now evening.]
Walter is wrapped in a towel and prepares to run some bath water. Meanwhile, Ann is still touching up her makeup? [So, maybe this is still morning... and Walter felt an intense need to bathe??? WHAT IS THIS SCENE!?!]
Scene 45: As Ann is futzing with her makeup, a brush keeps falling from the vanity to her puzzlement.
Scene 46: In the bathroom, Walter runs water while listening to the radio. After he gets in the tub, the steam exponentially increases and he tries to adjust the water temperature only to find that the faucets suddenly refuse to turn.
He leaps from the bath before he can get himself burned by the quickly scalding water.
Scene 47: With Ann, she gets a scare as the Dead Bride pops up behind her and disappears just as quickly. She screams drawing Walter from the bathroom, Carol and Jon from their bedroom, and -um- Other Friends from down the hallway. Walter mentions the suddenly scalding water and Ann says that she thought she saw a woman in the mirror, but now thinks she must've imagined it.
She tells them what she saw.
[And now the timeline suggests it is the next morning, after the house warming party? Or their arrival was on Friday, we skipped that whole day, and now it is Saturday morning is a possibility.]
Jon suggests they get dressed and join the already dressed Other Friends downstairs.
Commentary: This scene was awful. Not only for the horrible timeline issues and trying to figure out when we are, but the horrible acting here suggests that this scene may have been added later and no one had time to rehearse. Our Male Other Friend is horribly wooden and Chris Baker, who handled her sarcasm fight with her Mother just fine, gets a case of the BadActings.
And once again, we have the problem of Dead Bride playing peek-a-boo. We've now watched her stab Carol, try to gas Jon and Carol to death, mind control Rose into madness and suicide, and slaughtered two home invaders. Why is she playing so coy now with Ann? Why does she continue to waste precious energy and time with the whole "move objects just outside of person's vision" game?
Andy Milligan seems to not understand the concept of building toward a crescendo when it comes to his horror elements. Rose's death should have come later into the movie and also should've happened AFTER the anonymous home invaders because we actually spent several minutes with her so could've been said to know her somewhat. Her death was also emotional for Ann since she's aware of Rose's sudden and unexplained spiral after whatever frightened her in the basement. Nobody knows about the thieves at all. It's Rose's death that should be playing on Carol's mind and causing her to become frightened that something supernatural is happening in her new home [which seemed to be where she was headed during lunch with her father, but now she appears to have forgotten the whole thing].
Another thing I'm not liking is the Dead Bride herself. She's too "present" with all of her laughing and teleporting around and manic facial expressions. This would've worked late in the film [right about now, actually], but what she needed was - again - a slow build toward appearing and murdering. We should've only gotten quick glimpses of her near our protagonists in the early scenes - maybe barely on screen, and only for seconds at a time. As per "power and anger" grows, we could've then seen more and more of her.
Scene 48: Later that day, the Housewarming is in swing. We get lots of shots of food on tables and the gathering is filled with laughter and random dialog, including about Walter and Ann's new home purchase and plans they have to begin renovations shortly thereafter headed up by one of the other guests at the party.
[Because we're all emotionally invested in Walter and Ann's domestic plot arc, as you all know.]
While Jon is stuffing his face, Carol and Ann are discussing the latter's plans to move upstate. Ann shares with Carol her other news about the pregnancy surprise she has for Walter.
[Weirdly, Carol's father isn't here and isn't even mentioned.]
We learn here that Other Couple are Margaret and Tony, as Jon pours Champagne for everyone. Ann now tells everyone about the baby and there is toasting and general merry making. Something happens, and Carol and Jon drop their glasses at the same moment. Carol suddenly blurts out the name Susan and Jon shushes her. He goes off to grab a broom, but not without looks of forboding.
Scene 49: In the kitchen, Carol grabs her head in a state of confusion.
Scene 50: After the glass is swept up, Margaret offers to take the broken glass to the trash. A rug slips across the room and into her path. She steps on it, and slips and falls with the now jagged glass raining down on her. She gets pincushioned with broken glass shards.
She apologizes for ruining the party, as Jon works on getting the broken glass out of her arms. It's obvious she'll need a doctor.
Scene 51: A bit later and Carol carried a bowl of glass fragments and blood to the kitchen where she dumps them in a pail. After she leaves, the pail's contents burst into flames.
Scene 52: Sometime later, Carol is - justifiably - still upset. She's pacing in her and Jon's room. She turns on Jon and tells him that she thinks that her dad's housekeeper, Martha, was right and there is something in their house. Jon poo-poos it. Carol asks about Margaret and we find out that she'll be fine after a trip to the emergency room. He tells her that Tony is seeing to it that she gets home.
Carol tells him that she thinks that Ann and Walter should also leave, as the house doesn't want them there. She further now believes that the house doesn't want them there either. She begs Jon to make their friends leave for their own safety. Jon tells her to stop sounding ridiculous.
Scene 52: In their guest room, Ann is also still upset -- upset enough to already be packing up.
Scene 53: In the guest bathroom, Walter is going to go for bathing attempt number two. Worse for us than his hair patch on his lower back is the fact that he turns the radio on to some Polka-Lite and then tunelessly hums along [Suddenly, I'm missing the non-stop barking of our old friend].
After checking in on Ann looking antsy, we see that Walter has made it into the bath... with nearly no water in the tub. He drops his washrag on the floor, and it... you guessed it... moves on its own, sliding a bit across the floor. Walter easily retrieves it without any of the threatened nudity, making that pointless.
We see the radio begin to move on its own and follow the electric cord from the wall to understand what will happen to Walter if the radio slides into the tub with him.
It tumbles in... and Walter gets electricuted.
Scene 54: We sudden jump cut to the churchyard. We join the service in progress for Walter.
The mourners hear a short sermon, do a short moment of silence and then begin to file out.
Commentary: Okay, this was a weird scene. We see Carol with her father, but not her husband for one. Jon seems to have missed this rather important event for his friend. But also, you'd reasonably think that we saw this short interlude because either Carol or Jon was going to pull aside the reverend and broach the subject of having him come to bless their house. But nothing happens. We see Walter's loved ones walking down the path in grief and then... scene done....
Scene 55: Later, Carol is beside herself with grief back at the house. She's been drinking and is only in a robe. She looks around the cavernous house with a chill. [She also very obviously has dialog that has been edited out and replaced by background music -- entirely inappropriate music which is less about grief than about a woman thinking about a guy she's sweet on. I have no idea what the hell.]
Our soundtrack now turns to mildly mysterious music, which is a little more appropriate, as we watch Carol drinking and rubbing at her head and face in her continued upset over Walter's tragic death.
Commentary: This goes on and on and it isn't building to any climax. We quite literally suddenly jump back to the city without anything happening to or around Carol. We get no mention of Jon's whereabouts. We don't get anything ghost related, even though you'd think now would be an opportune time to screw with Carol's mind while she's in grief and in her cups and isolated.
It's not exactly a wasted scene, since we're seeing the deep impact of Walter's death, but it's all rather empty due to the amount of time the scene was stretched without any payoff. Clearly this was inserted for run time only.
Scene 56: In the city, Jon is working when his secretary Judy interrupts to tell him that Carol is waiting on line 3.
Once the secretary turns the call over to Jon [after sharing irrelevant details about this extra's life], we find out that Carol is calling him from City Hall, where she's been looking into the background of their home.
[So... that's why we had to have the drawn out scene of her pondering teary eyed in her home?]
As she's speaking, the man she's set to meet to discuss the details of the probate leading to the house being on the market arrives early and she quickly hangs up with her husband.
The man has an out-of-place mild rant about the lack of manners in a modern world as an apology for interrupting her phone call by arriving early.
Scene 57: Back at the office, Jon calls down to the stock room and speaks to ... y'know, whatever - this is an entirely random scene with half-hearted dialog to set up this woman to go somewhere and do something of which we aren't told anything of value to know what is going on or how it affects what Carol is investigating.
Scene 58: Back with Carol [and her actual relevant visit], she's hearing the details of her home's recent past. She finds out about the Opening Scene Couple, who though they were dressed as a newlywed couple apparently had lived in the house for years at the point we met them. They'd spent a lot of time and money restoring the home and tracking down the original furnishings.
Probate Guy shares that he knew the couple quite well and their energy to restore the house to its original configuration amplified after a heartbreaking miscarriage. The final straw came after Susan found a lump in her breast that turned out to be cancer and was too far advanced for successful treatment. Which is what led to the couple deciding to die together via the gunshots we witnessed.
They mutually murder-suicided on the three year anniversary of closing on the house, which also happens to be coming up in about a month. He excuses himself for a moment, leaving Carol to consider that the weird occurances really does have a supernatural explanation.
Scene 59: Meanwhile, that random secretary arrives at the house to deliver whatever it was that Jon needed her to take out to the house for him, whose details were so woefully inadequate.
We get a few shots of an axe lying propped up in the yard. Secretary knocks at the front door, but of course, Carol hasn't come home yet.
After several attempts at the front door, she goes around to the back. We see the axe begin to levitate.
Commentary: I wonder where the dead home invader's bodies went that no one has noticed a rank smell yet. Especially Skulker, who died outside of the basement and wasn't shown to be dragged back into the home to be made to disappear.
Scene 60: Secretary returns to the front door and knocks some more. The axe slides up the bannister toward her.
Secretary is very suddenly beheaded.
Commentary: Okay, this one is pretty badly done. The other deaths were actually relatively effective, excepting the stringy intenstine pull but this one is horrible and doesn't work even as a low budget effect [for which I can generally forgive]. Worse though, is that this woman's entire place in the film was clearly just so there'd be another body but she was so haphazardly set up that we can't care. And then her end result is this horrible effect? Blah. Her inclusion was completely unnecessary and is adding run time to a movie that really needed some cuts.
And of course, when you cut off a hand it bleeds like a firehose. When you cut off a head, it's completely messless.
Scene 61: That night, Carol is lying restlessly in bed. She's restless. And scene.
Commentary: Which just adds to the problems of including Secretary's death: Where did the body and head go? Where did all of the blood go? Why didn't Jon call his wife to check on whether Secretary delivered whatever was so urgent that it couldn't wait? When did it become established that Jon works far enough away that he spends nights away from home? Why would that be necessary, when clearly they live close enough to the city to drive there easily?
Scene 62: The following day, Carol has gone to the church to talk to the reverend. Instead of dialog, we get organ music plodding out as we look on from a distance away.
We skip-jump in and find that Carol has asked the reverend about the possibility of a ghost in her home. The reverend plans with Carol to meet at her home around noon the following day just to talk things out.
Commentary: That organ music is the most boring thing ever. It's even more annoying to listen to than the Polka-Light radio... or the dog barking. And, unfortunately, we're starting to get a lot of these very short, not really needed scene jumps piling up and its now affecting the pacing when things should be ramped up and tense with all of the deaths we've seen. It's starting to become just a bit irritating, since the deaths - as I've mentioned - are badly out of order. We've already seen Carol and Jon's close friend being electricuted to death... that should be the "last straw" for the final confrontation between the Hendersons and the ghost, instead of sticking random Secretary in there and now these slow, casual scenes of Carol's un-urgently paced day-to-day activities.
Scene 63: Suddenly, we're on the next day. Carol and Reverend are walking around the porch of the home, while Jon follows several steps behind.
Carol and Jon describe the translocation of objects to a doubting-Thomas reverend. He suggests they go inside. Which they do.
Commentary: And we receive several ill-placed, repetitive outside views of the house again. There are too many and held too long to add to the run time and AREN'T NECESSARY. The movie is running 91 frickin' minutes! It didn't need to be this long and rambling.
Scene 64: Now, despite the Reverend's appointment being for noon, the clock shows us it's after six now.
The reverend has apparently done a sweep of the house, but saw nothing unusual. He asks about the figure that Ann claimed to have seen and Carol shares that she showed a picture of the previous couple in the house. Ann identified Susan as the figure she saw in the mirror.
The reverend can offer no solutions to their problem, suggesting that Susan's soul may have become so wrapped up in the home, that the best thing to do would be to sell the home and get out.
During this, Susan's screams are heard echoing around the home. Carol and Jon suggest the reverend had better leave, but when they try to rush him out, the door slams shut and won't open. They rush through the dry-fogged dining room, only to find that door to the kitchen stuck as well.
Another dash for the front of the house is blocked by flying chairs. We see our Ghost Couple on the stairs laughing down at our trio. This is the first time we've seen Husband since his murder-suicide.
Our trio continues trying to flee while the Ghosts echo-yell at them. Reverend is knocked to the floor with the slippery rug trick. Carol tries to help him, but Jon stops her at first. He changes his mind when the reverend starts being dragged off toward the music room. Our couple play tug of war with the ghosts over the shouting minister. Ultimately they're able to retrieve him and retreat to the dining room.
Scene 65: The minister, a bit worse for wear, doesn't get any chance to recover from the ordeal however, as a meat cleaver shoots across the room and embeds itself in the wall inches from his head. Our trio retreat again to the hallway.
Everything just as suddenly goes quiet. Jon herds them toward the front door, which opens obligingly. They rush out onto the front porch, but before they can safely be away, the Ghosts send the meat cleaver flying after them, nailing the minister in the back of the shoulder-no-the-head.
Scene 66: Sudden jumpcut to the exterior of the house again.
For some inexplicable reason, the Hendersons have returned to the house presumably some time later since minister's body isn't just being swept out of existence.
They are sitting together, talking about their love for the house. But clearly, they can't stay. Jon leaves her sitting in the dust cloth shrouded music room, as he goes to get the car.
After he goes, Carol sits and forlornly gazes around her dream home ruined. She finally gets up to go, only to be confronted by Dead Susan.
Commentary: Yes, it is stupid that after everything they'd return to the home, apparently long enough to change clothes and pack up everything. Yes, it is stupid that after watching the minister killed before their eyes and having their friend killed and being threatened themselves they would seperate, leaving Carol alone in the home. Yes, it does feel like we're being telegraphed a downer ending because nobody in their right minds would be talking about "loving the house" after all of the death in their horrifying experiences and they certainly wouldn't have wasted time putting the dust covers in place and sitting around being forlorn.
Scene 67: Outside, Jon is carrying the bags to the car.
While this is happening, Carol tells the ghost that she's sorry about the things that happened to her. Dead Bride Susan tells her not to go, but Carol replies that they can't stay, not now.
The Dead Bride Susan promises Carol that they won't interfere with them anymore if she and Jon will only stay and leave the house just as it is in future. Carol refuses.
Scene 68: For about 4 seconds. When Jon enters the home again, he sees Carol crazily smiling at him with Dead Ghost Couple holding her hands.
They welcome him with their crazy grins. Jon "oh my god's", as they approach him with their outstretched arms.
Scene 69: After several more shots of the house exterior, we rejoin our couple listening to the Wedding March under the watchful gaze of our Dead Married Couple.
They go through the whole reenactment. It appears that Jon may resist for a moment, but then he fires the gun into Carol as we cut to black.
Scene 70: We see the property with its For Sale sign back in place and a return of the Dog Who Won't Stop Barking....
The Good: The opening scene was well staged to kick off our tale.
I want to give acting kudos to Leslie Den Dooven, who really creates a likeable protagonist and handles her more distraught, emotional scenes well. I also liked most of Chris Baker's (Ann) work.
I really enjoyed the sequence [putting aside the ridiculous location it took place in] of Rose's suicide. The actress, Lola Ross, really carried the performance and the effects were quite good for a low budget production.
I also did like the murder of Walter, simply because it was so unexpected. I didn't think that he'd be killed, considering the amount of screen time he was getting with Ann. I expected Tony to be the one to buy it, instead.
The Bad: The fucking dog. It DOESN'T. SHUT. UP.
There are a lot of scenes that may be realistically mundane, but for a film is a problem. They add to the run time, but otherwise often aren't serving any narrative purpose and should've been cut or slimmed down. This goes toward domestic bliss scenes and the lingering, repetitive shots of the house exterior.
Going along with the editing issues, we have some truly bad jump cutting throughout this film.
The day-for-night is appalling.
I was really annoyed by Secretary's badly done death because it added nothing to anything. Jon never realizes that she did go to the house, he never mentions her vanishing, no trace of her is ever located... she just adds nothing except a horrible mannequin effect.
There are a few severe problems with the soundtrack.
Other Thoughts: A big issue for the film is the repeated shots of items moving just because. There are just too many of them and the effect really isn't that good.
Another problem I had is the lack of a narrative build toward the downer climax. Everytime we start to build the horror with a death scene, we suddenly fall back on more shots of mundane items moving around pointlessly. In addition, instead of weighting the deaths that matter toward the end, characters are killed off in nearly random order, so that you have the death of a semi-major character followed by the death of no-name. They're just out of order of importance to our main couple. Additionally, the side characters of Walter and Ann are given an entire subplot that has to be aborted when Walter is killed and Ann vanishes from the picture, except for one mention. It was an especially missed opportunity for Walter's death to entirely change Carol's outlook and we're missing a big scene between Ann and Carol following the horrible accident after Ann's seeing the ghost. This is just a weirdly structured movie, is what I'm trying to get out through my rambling.
I want to talk about the Dead Bride, Susan here. I think that she was shown a bit too much, but I also liked her scenes at the beginning during her death and at the end with Carol. I think she'd have worked much better though if we'd seen her less and if her emoting during the killing scenes weren't so over the top.
Finally, I'm all for the bleak ending but it was really undercut by being too obvious because of the clumsy set up to put Carol alone in the house. After the dramatic minister's murder in front of them and seeing the ghosts in living color with their own two eyes, it's just nonsense that they'd be back in that house and they sure as hell wouldn't be splitting up or leaving one another alone for an extensive period. I did like the scene of the ghosts and Carol holding hands and smiling crazily at Jon as they close in on him, but how we get to that sequence was too dumb to let slide.
The Score: When I saw that this film was an Andy Milligan production, my heart really sank. In review after review, no one seems to think much of his films. But, I have to say that in this one, I wasn't in pain at all. There are a few problems, of course, due to budget and the bloated run time but this wasn't a bad movie. It's real problems could've been solved by some editing that would've gotten it more love from me.
2.75 out of 5 stars
Next Film Review: The X-Files' "Shadows"
However, I will probably do the BTVS, S9 Issue 22 and the Angel & Faith, Season (7) Issue 22 reviews first.