Plot: Claire (Meghan Ory) has always struggled to move the past behind her. But as a child, she lived in a foster home with several other children, a home in which violence would erupt. Although her memory fades in and out, she knows she was the lone survivor, as the other children were murdered by the foster mother. Now as an adult, Claire still tries to move on, but finds herself unable to cope with what happened. Her therapist has encouraged her to return to the home, hoping the visit would unlock her memories and help her to leave it all behind her. At the same time, the macabre tale of the house has drawn the interest of a haunted house kingpin (Jeffrey Combs). He wants to hire a group of young actors to perform inside its walls, a group that happens to include Claire. But will the return to her childhood home be the key to letting go for Claire, or will she only uncover more evil?
Entertainment Value: I was drawn to Dark House by the interesting premise, a high tech haunted house filled with holograms, as well as the presence of horror legend Jeffrey Combs. In the end, Combs is fun to watch, but his role is a smaller one and while the concept is a fun one, Dark House fails to make good use of it and delivers a basic, forgettable experience. The story is fine, but rather dull and not that original, with few memorable twists or turns, so we are left with a mediocre plot populated by generic characters. Combs is a welcome exception in that area, but his costars bring little to the table and since the tone is fairly serious in most scenes, the weak performances sink what little tension might have been possible. And there’s not even unintentional humor to be found here, just a few laughs when Combs hams it up, but otherwise this is just a drawn out, mostly dull affair. I do think some effort was made to include a good amount of bloodshed, but that’s about all Dark House has to offer. So unless you’re a Combs disciple or just have to see every haunted house movie out there, this one is tough to even slightly recommend.
Just one bit of nakedness, but it is memorable at least. A dismembered woman is nude and still alive, with her severed head chattering away at the haunted house guests, while her topless torso dangles next to her other body parts. An odd scene to be sure, but one of the few instances where Dark House tries to stand out, rather than following the same old, same old routines. A solid amount of violence unfolds, including a nice volume of bloodshed, but the downside is that the kills aren’t creative or memorable. I already mentioned the dismembered, but still living woman and that is a fun sequence, but most of the rest of the kills are forgettable. A man takes a face full of broken glass, some fingernails do the devil’s work, some acid is splashed around, an ax is tossed around to make a point, and there’s a nice head removal. A garbage disposal scene had potential, but none of the fun stuff is shown. So some welcome blood spills here, I just it was done in a more inventive fashion. The dialogue does what it needs to do, but aside from Combs camping it up a little, none of the lines are memorable. In terms of craziness, you have the silliness of some of the tech elements, but otherwise Dark House is content to stick to the well worn path.
Overall Insanity: 1/10