DVD Review: “House Of Good And Evil” Is A Decent Directorial Debut


Review by James McDonald

After a family tragedy in the chaotic city, Chris and Maggie Conley, in a last-ditch effort to save their dying marriage, purchase an isolated home in the deepest woods, to which they quickly discover, evil has a key.

“House of Good and Evil” starts off with Chris (Christian Oliver) and Maggie (Rachel Marie Lewis) arguing in their apartment. We see their silhouettes against the window and we see that Maggie is pregnant and in the heat of the moment, Chris pushes her to the ground. Shortly thereafter, they are in their car on the way to the hospital as Maggie is in labor but in the height of traffic, unable to move, Maggie raises her hands to see blood on them and then the realization hits Chris, she has just lost the baby. Time goes by and they both move out to the country, away from the hustle and bustle of the sprawling metropolis. Chris works for the forestry fire department and he has transferred to the country where they have just bought a big old house, far away from anything and everyone.

As they’re being shown around, they realize that the whole house is not in fact, all theirs, not yet anyway. They are told that there is an old couple who lives next door that are away often and will be moved out by the end of the month. Chris is called away to fight a fire and that’s when strange things begin happening. Maggie starts hearing a phone ringing next door but her and Chris were specifically told that the area hasn’t had phone lines in years. Their gas-powered generator keeps switching off and she eventually meets the elderly neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson (Jordan Rhodes & Marietta Marich, respectively). Mrs. Anderson appears very frail and she is afraid of her husband, who just happens to be a firefighter as well.

One day, Maggie loses the charger for her cell phone and when Chris returns, she is convinced that he took it so she searches his truck but to no avail. He begins to worry about her, with all of her stories about hearing things and seeing things and the stress of just having lost a baby. One afternoon, Mrs. Anderson knocks on her door and they both go for a walk where she continues to tell Maggie that she can feel it inside of her that her husband is plotting to kill her. When the two women make it back to the house, both men are there and there is a big altercation where Mr. Anderson stabs Chris and Maggie rams an axe into Anderson’ back. She then proceeds into the house where we hear her chopping up Mrs. Anderson.

This is director David Mun’s directorial debut and for a first time effort, the movie isn’t bad but it cannot seem to make up its mind. The film is a jumbled mess, undecided on which genre it really wants to be. Early on, there are some good atmospheric scenes with an expected build-up that sadly, go nowhere. In the woods on a walk, she stops and the music begins to build and we are given the expectation that something is in the trees watching her and she looks frantically all around and then we cut back to her in the house where obviously nothing happened. By the end, director Mun tries to pull an M. Night Shyamalan, ala “The Sixth Sense” on us which fails miserably. In a cheesy flashback, we see that Chris died the very first night they arrived and that there were never any neighbors present either. Maggie would sit at the table eating with Chris’ dead body opposite her and when she went for her walks in the woods, she would put his corpse into a buggy and pull it behind her.

So like “The Sixth Sense”, we are expected to acknowledge her hazy recollection as the truth but just when we think it’s all over, the elderly neighbors that were ‘never actually there’, turn up stating that they were away in Florida for the past two weeks. One interesting aspect that was never fully explored, or explained, was that the elderly couple were actually Chris and Maggie in later years. One scene has Chris hit Maggie because she is acting all crazy and the next day she has a bruise under her eye but when she meets Mrs. Anderson later that day, she has a bruise in the exact same place. If that’s the angle that the film was trying to achieve, it didn’t realize it very well. Like I stated earlier, the film tries too hard to be a multitude of genres and never achieves any of them successfully. Rachel Marie Lewis as the supposedly ‘crazy’ Maggie gives an exceptional performance and carries the movie, it’s just a shame the movie didn’t have more weight for her to carry.

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James McDonald
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