College students exploring an abandoned insane asylum accidentally shatter canisters holding the cremains of former mental patients. Inhaling the dusty ash filling the air, they’re soon possessed by the souls once held within them.
“House of Dust” begins in an old psychiatric hospital in the 1950’s where three patients are tied up and the doctor is drilling into their heads, obviously experimenting on them. They are eventually put into the crematorium, where one of them, as he is being burned alive, vows retribution. We flash forward to the present where the old hospital is now abandoned and sits right next to a college campus. It is the last day before classes start and Emma (Inbar Lavi) is just arriving. She becomes roommates with Gabby (Holland Roden) and her boyfriend Dylan (Eddie Hassell) and his roommate Kolt (Steven Grayhm) are right across the hall.
Emma is very quiet and withdrawn but Gabby manages to talk her into going to a party with Dylan and Kolt. While at the party, Emma begins hearing strange voices and is drawn to the old hospital. Her trio of friends go along with her and they all sneak into the building where Emma gets separated from the others. While they are down in the crematorium, they come across several jars containing the ashes of the three patients that were burned alive and they are accidentally knocked over. After inhaling the dust, the three gradually begin to exhibit strange behavior and it’s up to Emma to sneak back into the building and resolve the strange occurrences.
This is the second movie I’ve reviewed in two days that used the exact same tagline as the previous movie: “Evil Never Dies”. I literally cannot count how many times I’ve seen that tagline but it would be nice if the producers of these movies were actually able to come up with something original. While the story itself was somewhat different than the usual hybrid of conventional horror/scary movies, it sadly culminates with a totally preposterous finale that left me shaking my head in disbelief. Now, before I go any further, I would like to clarify a few things here. I am an independent filmmaker myself, for the past thirty years.
I know what it’s like to set out with an idea and progressively move forward with filming and then editing and then getting it out for the world to see. Many of these low-budget movies I review, for the most part, have good actors throughout and this movie is no different. The film’s lead, Inbar Lavi, gives a truly remarkable performance as a young woman who suffers from apparent schizophrenia so when she starts hearing haunting voices in her head, she immediately assumes they’re coming from within and continues taking her medication. As the movie advances however, she realizes that there’s more going on that nobody else seems to recognize.
The problem with this film, and others of its ilk, is, at the end of the day, the story. While the film starts off interestingly enough, it quickly loses momentum, with many scenes playing out for long periods of time with nothing happening to help advance the plot. Extended shots of characters looking perplexed and strange noises that are not very scary, do nothing to enhance the script. I love independent movies, irregardless of genre but horror films and ghost stories are amongst my favorites. The movie looks beautiful, well-photographed by Christo Bakalov but like I stated earlier, nothing engrossing or riveting really happens.
In one scene, we see the main antagonist, the spirit of Levius (John Lee Ames), the patient who in the beginning of the movie swears vengeance, and he is walking through the hospital holding a knife in his hand. Since when do ghosts need weapons? Not a big deal but one that I noticed nonetheless. While the film’s overall idea was engaging, the movie itself did nothing to help keep the required level of intrigue and suspense needed for a film of this variety and it flatlines early on. The most important aspect of any movie, is the script and no amount of good performances or admirable photography can save a movie if the script is not there to help back them up.
In stores May 20th