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The House Main

The House DVD Review

Written by ZigZag

DVD released by Artsploitation Films

The House Large

Written and directed by Reinert Kiil
2016, 88 minutes, Not Rated
Released on March 5th, 2019

Starring:
Frederik von Lüttichau as Fleiss
Mats Reinhardt as Kreiner
Sondre Krogtoft Larsen as Rune

The House 01 The House 02

Review:

Two German soldiers lead their injured Norwegian prisoner through the snowy Scandinavian forest. Kreiner, the Nazi lieutenant, is having trouble squaring away his compass with the sun and cannot find the rendezvous point. They spot an isolated house in a clearing and make their way towards shelter. Inside they find hot food on the stove and a radio broadcasting the news, but the residence is abandoned. The Nazis pass the night making small talk about the war and women waiting for them at home before falling asleep. The younger of the two, a paratrooper named Fleiss, is supposed to stand guard, but fails until being awakened by a strange noise. It appears someone has entered the house. Kreiner and Fleiss search the building but find only strange markings on the wall and a plethora of crosses hanging in the living room.

Creepy noises continue to ring through the house, unsettling the soldiers to the point that they abandon their prisoner and flee into the night. After marching through the woods for hours, they come to a clearing only to discover they have been walking in circles and are back at the house. Once again there is food on the stove and the radio is playing in the front room. This introduces a cycle of action that repeats a few times until we gradually learn the place is haunted. Through a series of flashbacks that suggest something evil resides here, viewers are given glimpses of a past exorcism performed. The soldiers are in real danger as they face vengeful spirits while trapped in a situation that could be their downfall.

Reinert Kiil (Christmas Blood) is back with another tale of Norwegian terror and this time he brought Nazis. The House (aka Huset) is a slow-burn film with little payoff. Kiil stacks the deck against himself as he tries to tell a story that is beyond his grasp. The first hurdle he faces is the notion of asking audiences to sympathize with a couple of Nazis. These guys are the go-to villains of history and it is damn near impossible to bond with them in a haunted-house tale. Had the Norwegian prisoner been the protagonist trying to convince his captors of the supernatural plight, we might have a decent story. As it stands, the prisoner is barely developed and blends into the background, a wasted opportunity. Personal feelings against Nazis aside, the next problem with this movie is the pacing. We crawl past creaking doors and shadows on the wall without reward as the filmmaker fails to generate any real suspense.

One of my biggest problems with Kiil’s previous film is that it is under-lit, leaving large sections of the movie too dark to see. Kiil has a new cinematographer, but the results are the same, with many darker scenes leading to confusion, undercutting any attempt at terror. Stylistically, the exorcism cutaways are interesting, but the subplot proves unrelated to the principal storyline and is merely a distraction. The big reveal at the end is a nice revelation, but as there are no clues to invest the audience, it comes too late to satisfy. Kiil is a frustrating filmmaker in that he is a better writer than director and fails to deliver the story to the fullest. I want him to get better and hopefully his next film will be an improvement, but with my second bite at the Kiil apple, I have a bitter taste in my mouth.

The House 03 The House 04

Video and Audio:

Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the picture is sharp and often well-defined. Colors are muted and black levels are deep. Day exteriors in the snow are pleasing, but some of the night scenes are too dark, leaving much information in blackness.

The House is a film spoken in three languages: German, English and Norwegian. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix proves up to the challenge and makes nice use of the surround channels.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

Special Features:

The director’s commentary track is interesting and informative albeit a bit slow. The stories are welcome, but he would have benefited from a moderator.

Outside the House (7 minutes) is a collection of behind-the-scenes footage shot during production.

In the 2018 interview with Reinert Kiil (18 minutes), he is discussing a totally different film for the first ten minutes. He eventually gets around to The House and has some interesting things to say, though I am not certain why the first half was included.

Samvittighetens Røst (12 minutes) is a short film by Kiil from 2007.

The House 05 The House 06

Grades:

Movie: Oneandahalfstars The House Small
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Threestars
Audio: Threeandahalfstars
Features: Twostars
Overall: Twostars

 

 

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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