J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

House of Darkness: There is a Reason Why Its Priced to Sell

Brian and Kelly ought to a highly compatible couple. They both work with their hands. He is a carpenter and she is a massage therapist. To be licensed, her knowledge of physiology and anatomy is practically equal to that of an RN. Unfortunately, he still regards her career choice as little more than prostitution. Yes, they were having a rough patch in their marriage, even before they moved into the evil house where families mysteriously die. Kelly will try to save her daughter from the malevolent force while her husband goes completely nuts in Patrick DeLuca’s House of Darkness (promo here), which premieres this Sunday on the Lifetime Movie Network.

To save their marriage, the troubled couple and their anti-social daughter Sarah moved to a quaint Northern California farmhouse, where they do not know anyone and have no clients for their respective businesses. On the recommendation of their former marriage counsellor, they will record video diaries on their laptops until they can find someone local. Of course, this will give Brian a venue for his freak-outs.

Right from the start, bad things start happening. The force immediately starts getting into Sarah’s head, but she is so weird, her parents hardly notice any change. Brian is a different story. He starts drinking even more, sequestering himself in his workshop. Hypocritically, he starts lusting after the Daisy Duke-wearing neighbor, while harboring jealous fantasies about her husband. As his instability lurches into violence, Kelly brings out a psychic to take the house’s paranormal temperature. The results of her inspection are alarming.

There are about thirty minutes in Darkness that really click. They involve the psychic and a visit to a former resident doing prison time for the supposed murder of her family. It is not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but the execution starts to click when Kelly starts getting proactive. The rest is a bit draggy, which is unfortunate. For a while in the 1970s, relatively scary made-for-TV horror movies produced by the likes of Aaron Spelling and directed by genre experts like Dan Curtis used to turn up fairly regularly on the networks (remember Crowhaven Farm and When Michael Calls?). It would be nice to see the tradition revived with a post-Scream sensibility, but Darkness is too inconsistent to be the catalyst.

At least Sara Fletcher’s Kelly is not a terribly cringe-inducing woman-in-jeopardy and Brittany Falardeau brings a little attitude as her sister Jamie. However, Gunner Wright looks and sounds like a poor man’s Patrick Wilson, despite all the scenery he chews as the supernaturally compromised Brian.

Arguably, DeLuca should have incorporated more backstory sooner. Tossing us a few tantalizing bones would keep us more intrigued than Kelly and Brian’s constant bickering. Let’s be frank, nobody enjoys watching a couple fight, especially if they are parents. Still, it’s something. We’d love to see more original horror from LMN, or anyone else for that matter. Spotty in the credibility and motivational departments, but not a complete dead loss, House of Darkness air this Sunday (4/17) on LMN.

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