Christian horror films (or religious fright flicks) have always struck a nerve with moviegoers across the world and still manage to pack quite a wallop to this day. Whether we're talking about The Exorcist where good somehow manages to conquer evil or in cases where evil prevails like End of The Line and Frailty, religious horror films aren't going away anytime soon and we can expect to see them as long as movies are still being made.
Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker are two well-know names in the common Christian fiction library. Although there stories are usually a bit dark or murky if you will, both writers have the tendency to spread the words of comfort and even hope in the most drastic situations. House is the only collaboration between the two gentlemen and it actually works quite well with it's sinister plot. As a film, it's quite good when you place it up against all the other copycat horror flicks or countless remakes.
Although House could be construed as a moralistic or spiritual journey, do not make the mistake of assuming it's light-hearted fare nor is it overly preachy as Christian films have sometimes garnered the reputation of being a bit heavy-handed and self-righteous. Peretti and Dekker rather give us a suspenseful, if not immensely spooky film which also avoids all the typical cliches of modern horror cinema.
The plot itself seems quite basic and even elements of the story will remind viewers of other typical horror fare meant for the enthusiast who endures mediocre entertainment. In fact, I personally avoided this one for the longest time and even scoffed at it a bit until just recently.
Although other films in years gone by have been made with similar story lines, I can't really recall a recent entry being quite this good or working so well on many different levels. At the end of the film, I couldn't possibly see how any level-headed moviegoer could be severely disappointed. With it's modest flaws, House still manages to be an effective chiller which takes full advantage of great acting and the lighting alone is nothing less than a grand spectacle.
House opens up with a tragic murder taking place in a beautiful horror somewhere in Montgomery, Alabama.(How ironic is that considering the film was supposedly shot completely in Poland?) Unfortunately, the viewer has no idea what's taking place or why the murder was committed leaving us to marinate in suspense as we are then introduced to two more couple traveling through town who somehow end up at the same bed and breakfast. No sooner than they arrive, things start to get a bit strange and it's pretty obvious the owners of this establishment know a bit more about these couples than our leads would care to acknowledge.
No sooner than dinner has been served, a homicidal maniac begins to terrorize the Inn and he wants to play a game with the couples. The rules are pretty routine and the viewer can almost be sure that rules are going to be broken even before things really take off. Written on the side of a tin can, three rules will apply to the guests. First rule, God came into my house and I killed him, second rule, I will kill anyone who comes into my house like I killed God, third rule, Give me one dead body before sunrise and I'll let rule number two slide... The Tin Man only "goes after the guilty." Someone has to die - if the rest are to live. There has to be a sacrifice, or they all will die.
Through the next half of the film, our characters find themselves trying to make sense of the insanity around them while battling their own internal demons or repressed ghosts. Although it may too late for some of the guests to get out alive, no life will leave unchanged by the series of events that take place before morning comes.
Again, the acting is top-notch. Even though House benefits greatly from great performances given by virtually unknown actors or actresses, horror fanatics will immediately recognized a few faces from the past. Bill Moseley, Leslie Easterbrook, and underrated Michael Madsen give very good performances which aid the film quite a bit. Probability suggests House wouldn't have worked nearly as well in the hands of less capable actors and actresses.
Final verdict: Go watch House even if you're not a Christian or have very little interest in religion. Although the Christian parallels are omni-present, House is clearly a horror film which rightfully earns it's R-rating and you shouldn't have to worry about having strong beliefs shoved down your throat for the most part. Instead, House is an entertaining yet psychological and supernatural film which becomes something more than it should have been given the subject matter.