Like a strange gift from God, Fear House somehow ended up in my mailbox one day. I have no idea when or why I added this movie to my Netflix queue, or how I even heard of it…but somewhere along the line either I clicked it into my list of movies or a power greater than I decided I needed to see it. If it be the latter, I’d like to publicly thank that deity for leading me to this marvel of cheap filmmaking. From an opening credits sequence that could’ve been made on a Windows Paint program to acting reminiscent of the best high school play I never saw, I enjoyed this one start to finish.
So, according to the Netflix sleeve, the plot here revolves around a group of people “ tracking down reclusive writer Samantha Ballard to her remote desert home.” Perhaps this is the case, but I was so startled by this Samantha Ballard character’s initial resemblance to 90s songbird Lisa Loeb that I couldn’t quite focus on anything else.
Once inside, our group of idiots (who, as far as I can tell, include Samantha’s brother, ex-husband, agent, and…ummm…others?) find the author looking…well…a little rough around the edges, and babbling about how they’ll die if they try to leave the house. The mansion, you see, is apparently haunted by a female ghost that preys on people’s fears. As if anyone should be surprised, given that the place looks like Dracula’s castle, featuring arched doorways, stone walls, cobwebs, and candelabras worthy of Liberace’s dream house.
The fear thing is very Nightmare on Elm Street 3-ish, sans the wizards and flying tongues. At the very beginning, some trampy character goes on and on about being afraid of dogs, basically to the point of BEGGING to be killed by one, and before you know it she’s attacked by a crazed hound and eaten alive. Well, I think it was a dog that killed her. It’s a little tough to say considering this is the only glimpse we get (along with some synthesizer-created dog barks):
Even after the first two people die, our cast of characters is remarkably calm, having all kinds of introspective conversations alerting us, the audience, to their fears. Of course, these knuckleheads are also alerting the witch girl to their fears, which makes it impossible to do anything else but cheer as they’re killed off. For example, if you’d just been told the story about the little girl ghost…and then actually saw a little girl run past you in darkened hallway, is there any chance you’d go running after her, crying out “Come back, little girl…I won’t hurt you…”? I sure as hell wouldn’t. But one of these twits does, and ends up like this:
The plot ends up unfolding as basically a bizarre carbon copy of Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, as the characters become more and more paranoid of the ghost-witch who might be real or might be all in their heads. Samantha, played by Aleece Jones, is so over-the-top that she actually makes Blair 2’s Erica Leerhsen look like an actress of subtlety; I quickly fell in love with her high-school-drama-class twitches and creepy half smiles, given straight to camera.
The special effects are a real marvel; especially appreciated is the scene in which a girl – strapped to a wheelchair – starts spinning in circles out of control. This, mind you, has nothing to do with her fear of drowning, but probably seemed like a good idea at the time. I also love that the main girl ends up being burned alive, and thus looking like this:
Anyway, the end had something to do with the author and her brother being related to the ghost girl. I think. I actually have no idea what was going on at the end. And really, who cares? This movie is a complete mess, and a kind of loveable one at that. My brother is obsessed with Blair Witch 2 – it’s one of his favorite movies ever. Well, JM – this movie may have been an unexpected gift in my mailbox, but you should expect it in yours soon. You can thank me later.