Story: Shaun Costello (David Hinds) is a movie buff who not only has a deep, catalogued film collection, but he is consumed with tracking down the rarest motion pictures ever made. He has been able to build an archive of out of print rarities, uncut versions of movies, and director’s cuts of cult classics, but his collection simply isn’t complete. This haunts Shaun, as he can’t seem to get one elusive movie out of his mind. The House on Cuckoo Lane is perhaps the rarest movie ever made, as no one seems to have a copy available and most people believe it to be an urban legend. But Shaun is convinced that the film is real and he is determined to find it, no matter how much time or cash it involves. He leaves no stone unturned in his quest to see the movie, scouring dealer listings and even exploring underground film collecting, to the point his own girlfriend leaves him, tired of his obsession. Just when he starts to give up hope, a potential lead pops up and with the help of a veteran movie locator, Shaun might just finally feast his eyes upon the lost picture, The House on Cuckoo Lane.
Entertainment Value: I can appreciate and relate to the narrative here as a movie lover, but the overall experience here left me rather listless and disappointed. The horror movie elements at work here are rather weak, hoping some plastic Halloween masks will be sufficient creepiness, which isn’t the case. A lot of screen time is devoted to Shaun and while it is interesting to see a tape collector as the lead character, he winds up as a dull, forgettable persona. Aside from his obsession with the lost movie, there is no real personality or presence to Shaun, he simply exists to further the plot or so it seems. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if there was more depth to the overall narrative, but given that Shaun is on screen for the bulk of the picture, a weak lead really drains the movie at times. The performances are passable for the circumstances, with David Hinds in a not terrible turn as Shaun while Jamie Richardson has a smaller, more interesting role as The Hawk. As far as scares, I don’t feel the movie ever builds any palpable atmosphere and while the tape’s cursed images are supposed to be eerie, those sequences felt like a Ring knockoff and fell rather flat. The slow pace and lack of kinetic progress are what really sinks The House on Cuckoo Lane however, as so little happens and the big moments, like seeing the tape and the finale, fail to deliver on the thrills or chills. I wanted to like this one, but for me, this one is hard to recommend.
No nakedness. The cursed tape has some quick cuts of naked flesh, but that doesn’t amount to much. Then again, it is no surprise the sex quotient is low, since Shaun’s girlfriend dumps him for being more interested in VHS tapes. Not as much bloodshed as I expected, but there is some red stuff here and there. The highlights include some unconvincing self harm, a disembowelment, some gushy stab wounds, and of course, a rat like fetus. You can also see some blurry, quick cut violence in the cursed tape, but that doesn’t up the score much. The dialogue does what it needs to do and moves the narrative, but that is about all you should count on here. The writing is basic and you won’t find colorful characters, wild exchanges, or quotable moments here, just the bare bones to progress the storyline. While the movie proved to be far less unhinged than I hoped, there are some humorous or slightly off the wall moments to appreciate. Those moments include ritualistic VHS viewing, random coffee, shattering of domestic bliss, lingering closeup of a VCR, a trippy rideshare, and yes, a kitchen haircut.
Overall Insanity: 2/10