As an effective horror film, Christopher (Douglas-Olen) Ray‘s chiller A House Is Not A Home is quite well made, but isn’t the scariest film you’ll ever see by a long shot. Don’t get me wrong – other than a lack of gore, it covers the expected fright bases alright and has very solid performances all around. The problem is, it sticks a wee bit too close to the films it’s influenced by to be memorable outside of a few scenes.
Referencing The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, The Entity, and a few other more modern horror flicks, AHINAH’s best trick is playing with the old Eddie Murphy joke that black people would get the hell out of a haunted house as soon as the first sign of something scary took place. In this case, the big twist is… the house here just won’t let them, and that’s AFTER it’s supposedly been dis-possessed by a voodoo priest in a lengthy process that involves a room-to-room “cleansing”. Oops.
After a nice opening setup where the previous owner (Richard Grieco!) makes… well, let’s just say an offer that can’t be refused, we meet Ben and Linda Williams (Gerald Webb, Diahnna Nicole Baxter) as they get a tour from Paul (Bill Cobbs), a real estate man really intent on closing the sale. Despite the odd smell possibly from one of the side-by-side ovens, the unusual “leather” covered dining room table and that door to a room that can’t be opened (!), the couple agree to buy the home. Okay, I blame their troubled marriage for that fateful decision, as I’m someone who cooks his own meals and a stinky kitchen would get a NO SALE from me.
The couple and their two teenage kids (Aurora Perrineau, Melvin Gregg) move in and yep, the spooky stuff starts happening right quick. You get pretty much the whole gamut of possessed dolls, sudden injuries, piano lessons gone haywire, and so forth and so on. The thing is… NONE of this gets anyone to put six and six and six together until the need to call in outside help arrives. That help comes in the form of Lucas St. Michelle (Eddie Steeples), taking on the Father Merrin part and as noted above, having similar success against the evil here. But hey, he wears that white suit well.
The mix of practical effects, a bit of CG and editing kicks a few scenes up a couple of notches. But again, while there’s enough blood spilled, no gore will get horror fans who expect heads to roll tossing popcorn at their screens. Still, the cast and director give it their all and the film attempts and succeeds at poking an old stereotype in the eyeballs while providing an good evening’s entertainment for those into the demonic obsession stuff. Scored appropriately, I’d say two piano cover slammed thumbs up, provided you don’t go in expecting The Shining, black version or something silly like that.
Score: B: 75%
Review DVD provided by MVD Entertainment Group