Thursday, November 10, 2016

House on the Hill

Director - Jeff Frentzen
Starring - Stephen A.F. Day (Snakes on a Train, Shapeshifter), Sam Leung, and Naidra Dawn (Zombie Nation, Green River Killer)
Release Date - 2012
Genre - Horror/Crime
Tagline - "No one gets out alive"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Those of you that know me on a personal level or follow me on Instagram then you may have noticed that I has a little obsession with serial killers.  There is one serial killer that I find very interesting and that is Ed Gein just like so many others.  With that being said, I have read about a lot of serial killers over the years and only one made me feel uncomfortable.  That serial killer was Leonard Lake.  Not because of how he killed people or did to them but because he killed several children including an infant.  This really bothered me.  A few weeks back my friends over at MVD sent me a crime horror film titled House on the Hill to review.  The film follows the last days in the life of Leonard Lake and actually included some of his videos that the police found on his compound.  Thanks guys for sending it my way.
     The film follows the last days of Leonard Lake (Day) and his acquaintance Charles Ng (Leung) who kidnap women and force them to clean and fulfill their sexual fantasies while they use their money, credit cards, and sell their belongings before they kill them.  They snag a girl and keep her longer than normal but she eventually escapes around the time Leonard is arrested for shoplifting.  While in custody he takes a cyanide pill and dies.  Some time passes and the young woman that escapes is interviewed about her experience at the house on the hill.
     I was curious to see how this movie would play out.  How would a crime horror film incorporate footage of the actual killer while other scene would have an actor playing the same character?  How Frentzen handled it did make an interesting film but the film has no traction and is quickly forgettable.  The acting in this one is a little one sided.  Stephen A.F. Day made the film.  He portrayal of Lake was fucking chilling.  He was well spoken and carried himself with style but still demanded terror.  The only downside to Day's portrayal of Lake was that he looked nothing like Lake.  This was why I was concerned about them adding footage of Lake to the film.  It gives the viewer something to compare the cast to.  Sam Leungis solid as Charles Ng.  He does not bring the same intensity as Day but he still delivers a solid performance.  The remainder of the cast was lacking.  I don't know if it was from lack of direction or experience but they were not firing on all cylinders.  The story for this one is one we have seen so many times by this point.  It doesn't make it anymore enjoyable knowing that it was based on a true story because all the films before it was based on the very same story.  In fact, the Sleaze Box film Amerikan Holokaust follows the Lake/Ng murders and is able to make an actual film that will make you skin crawl.  The addition of the Lake footage doesn't help the story either.  In fact, it pulls away from the hard work the cast is putting in.  Finally, the film does have a few death but they are rather weak and easily forgettable.  The effects we do get work for the way the kills are shot but they are nothing spectacular or enjoyable.  Overall, House on the Hill has an opportunity to deliver a real powerful crime horror film about one of the most notorious serial killer pairs in history but drops the ball.  We really needed more structure and a little stronger cast.


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