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DVD Review

DVD cover

The House on Pine Street


Starring: Emily Goss, Taylor Bottles, Cathy Barnett and Jim Korinke
Distributor: Second Sight
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 01 February 2016

Jennifer Branagan’s husband relocates them to her childhood home state of Kansas, after she has suffered an unexpected mental breakdown. She is seven months pregnant, and Luke believes it is the ideal place to have their baby. But her opinionated and overbearing mother, Meredith, immediately tries to take control of her life. Furthermore, the house they have rented harbours a dark and violent force which only she experiences. Is she suffering another serious relapse, or is the house really haunted? Her constant fear and unease is only exacerbated by the way people behave around her. Feeling a stranger in a location where she should be at ease, Jennifer begins to reach out for help. But are the locals wary of her or the house...?

I need to dissect this movie into beginning, middle and end to fully appraise its potential effect on the viewer. The first third is quite slow and predictable, with stereotypical characters and situations. There is the humourless and abrupt landlord who is never seen again after the first few minutes, the reluctant and vulnerable wife, the practically emotionless husband, and the mother who always knows best. I really thought this was going to be a copy of Rosemary’s Baby - particularly during the party sequences when Jennifer keeps seeing individuals staring seriously and intently at her when everything else is going on normally around her. This is very effective, and a little unnerving. Another thing which reminded me of that film was the way characters keep putting a hand possessively on the mound of her pregnancy.

The second third teeters on the fence between supernatural and psychological horror, in that it is ambiguous for a long time whether the events which happen to her in the house are real or figments of a very traumatised mind. This premise is helped along by the fact nobody else witnesses the violence she endures from the house. There is a nicely-played chilling moment when her friend’s little boy repeatedly says, “Hello,” and gives a distracted wave to something behind Jennifer. Something which can’t be seen. Although the entity’s attacks on our pregnant protagonist take place in different parts of the house, many of them seem to emanate from a cupboard in the bedroom. A bedroom which she inexplicably continues to sleep in. The force is usually shapeless, but two or three times moves like a distended dark shadow across the walls of the basement to the stuttering guttural sound which has been utilised in Japanese horror films like The Grudge.

The pretty solid middle section of the film is majorly let down by the complete mess which makes up the last third. There are so many unanswered questions and inexplicable actions that it’s hard to know exactly where to begin. Having taken the shape of Luke on a handful of occasions to scare or attack Jennifer, the only time Luke himself is attacked by the entity is off-screen. She returns home to find his dead body in the garden. Why does the house wait this long to act? And why isn’t Jennifer accused of killing him? Also, there’s no explanation for the haunting, as even research by Jennifer reveals no unsavoury past. After the baby is born, she leaves it in the hallway to check upstairs. Is she mad? Perhaps so, but it’s never revealed if she is still suffering anxiety – only that her unbalanced mind may have stirred-up a dormant energy in the house. The biggest factor for me was that no event or action seems to cause any consequence. Instead, the end plays-out like a series of unconnected set-pieces.

A promising film spoilt by shoddy continuity and editing. No extras.


Ty Power

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