Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

House | The Last Resort

By Steve Anderson
November 1st, 2009


House starring Michael MadsenHouse
***
DVD
Directed by Robby Henson
Written by Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti
Starring Michael Madsen, Reynaldo Rosales, Julie Ann Emery, Bill Moseley
Produced by Joe Goodman, Bobby Neutz, Ralph Winter
R
88 mins
2009

For those of you not already in the know, a little background before we kick off this round of coverage--Frank Peretti is one of a very, VERY few novelists in a field called "Christian horror". You wouldn't think that such a thing would exist, but it's possible and Peretti's living proof. All you have to do to engage in Christian horror, apparently, is have demons running around like any ordinary horror flick, but you have to engage them with snippets from the Bible and whatnot.

And in House, four folks with horrible secrets are going to find themselves trapped in a house from beyond hell itself. The secrets this house hides are almost as bad as the secrets the people in the house are hiding, but there's one difference. The house comes under siege by the malevolent Tin Man, who insists that: a. he has killed God, b. he will kill everyone in "his house" the way he killed God, and c. if the occupants of the house are willing to hand up a corpse by sunrise, he'll temporarily ignore part B and let everyone go free. Naturally, the denizens of the house don't like this idea much, and set out to find a way out before the sunrise deadline. Even more naturally, it's not that easy.

House is actually a pretty fair thriller in its own right, because it features a whole bunch of graphically messed up individuals running around a house and inflicting their duelling psychoses on each other. Meanwhile, the house is doing everything in its not inconsiderable power to stack the deck against the denizens like no tomorrow, and it's doing a pretty bang-up job, in all honesty.

The ending, meanwhile, proves to be just a smidgen predictable but still pretty good.

The special features include audio options, English and Spanish subtitles, and trailers for Bella, and The Spirit.

All in all, House will do a pretty good job as a thriller by itself, and be an incredible landmark for serving as one of a vanishingly small number of Christian horror pieces in existence.

The Last ResortThe Last Resort
**
DVD
Directed by Brandon Nutt
Starring America Olivio, Paulie Rojas, Sita Young, Arianne Zuker
Produced by Chase Hudson, Ryan Reels, Forest Robin
R
74 mins
2009

I saw the trailers for The Last Resort and I confess that I didn't feel too good about its chances going in. It looked downright cheesy, purely low budget. And though I did get cheesy low budget out of this one, I also got some half-decent shocks out of it and a few good thrills.

When one woman in a circle of five old friends is getting married, the remaining four set up a whomping great bachelorette party for her. Thus, they head down to sunny Mexico for fun, sun, drinking and more imitation phalluses than you'd ever really want to see. Special note to parents--keep the kids off this one unless you want to do a whole lot of awkward explaining. Anyway, four of them go out on a sightseeing tour the next morning (one of them stayed behind after she met a guy, and no, it wasn't the bride to be), and find themselves waylaid by thieves. Stuck in the desert, the foursome find an abandoned resort hotel that's hiding a deadly secret. Now, it's left to the last of the group of five, her newfound boyfriend, and his buddy to go out and find them before it's too late.

I actually had more than a little fun watching this--they do a pretty fair job of building some suspense here, and though they could have gone totally Hostel-overboard with some of this, they actually did exercise a bit of restraint. Restraint isn't easy to come by in movies like this.

Sometimes, though, the movie does have a bit of a tendency to get heavy-handed and gloss over explanations. I just saw this one but I'm still kind of vague as to what exactly went on to make that resort what it is today. Only kind of vague--I have a good idea--but I really shouldn't have to GUESS what they're going after.

The ending, meanwhile, is a cataclysmic downer and leaves more than a few questions behind. Sounds like someone was desperate to "challenge" the viewer and thus forgot to fill in some blanks. Or just decided not to....

The special features includ audio options, English and Spanish subtitles, and trailers for Frontier(s), The Slaughter, and an ad for Break.com.

All in all, The Last Resort isn't really bad--what's here is pretty good stuff--but it just has this oddly unfinished, incomplete tone to it that leaves it a little lacking.

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line.  Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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