Friday, October 28, 2011


Directed by James Wan.
2010. Rated PG-13, 103 minutes.
Rose Byrne
Patrick Wilson
Ty Simpkins
Barbara Hershey
Lin Shaye
Leigh Whannell
Angus Sampson
Andrew Astor
Ruben Pla

Meet the Lamberts. They’ve just moved into a big pretty house. Almost immediately things start going bump in the night…and sometimes during the day, too. Mom Renai (Byrne) notices things the most. She whimpers and cries a lot. Dad Josh (Wilson) is almost perpetually on his way out the door and sleeps fairly hard do he doesn’t notice anything at all. Their oldest son Foster (Astor) says he’s scared once then we hardly ever see him again. I guess Hollywood is compliant with child labor laws after all. Speaking of which, there is an infant who’s name I can’t recall. She’s also sensitive to the strange happenings and cries almost as much as her mother. Finally, there’s middle-child Dalton (Simpkins). He seems to be the target of all this paranormal activity. See what I did there? Smooth, huh? He bumps his head, sees something scary and a day or two later slips into a coma. The doctor says it’s not really a coma. He doesn’t know what it is, but whatever. Mom and Dad bring Dalton home so he can be in his own bed during his not-coma and weird things keep going on.

Before I go any further, let’s talk about this house. It’s a gorgeous house with at least two floors of living space plus an attic. All of the rooms are huge including a living room in which their piano looks small. For a family of five, with the parents presumably in their thirties, it’s pretty much a dream house. Mom is an aspiring but non-paycheck earning songwriter. What does Dad do? He’s gotta be a young hotshot exec at some highly successful company, right? No. maybe he’s a lawyer or a doctor? Try again. Pat yourself on the back if you said school teacher. I’m not talking professor at a prestigious university. I’m talking middle-school. Uh-huh. Let’s move on.

As they tend to do in such movies, the noises and sightings intensify. Unable to take it any longer, Mom demands the family move immediately. The very next day, or so it appears, the Lamberts are moving into a smaller but still very nice house they’re leasing according to the sign on the lawn. Seriously, what district does this dude teach in? Anyhoo, in their new-new home there’s more random noises and sightings of grumpy looking dudes stomping around. Who ya gonna call? Momma-in-law (Hershey) has been hanging around the new-new place and is seeing stuff, too. She calls Ghostbusters, sort of. It’s really Elise (Shaye) who is a friend of hers who has a pair of geeky employees with lots of equipment. Long story short, we get the revelation we either figured out on our own or already knew because it’s in the trailer. Lady, it ain’t the house. It’s that little snot-nose that’s been lying in bed for the last 40 minutes of this flick. I won’t tell what happens after that because then we’d be getting into spoilers. It’s far beyond me to totally ruin a movie watching experience for you. Maybe.

I will do what I’m here for. I’ll tell you how I feel about all this. If you’ve ever seen a haunted house movie, this one will be less than thrilling. It is even more derivative than most. It feels like a mashup of Paranormal Activity and The Amityville Horror with a heaping helping of Poltergeist thrown in. At this point, the entire sub-genre can only be so creative. This one merely regurgitates what it got from those others without the tension carrying over. It never grabs you. The whole thing feels more hokey than scary. It doesn’t help that this set of apparitions is comparatively impotent. They pace back and forth, hide in corners and occasionally reach for someone. Sadly, it’s painfully obvious they’ll never get there. Worse, they look like they know they’ll never get there. The last scenes provide some intrigue and is a decent setup for a sequel. It’s just not a sequel I’m particularly anxious for.

MY SCORE: 5/10

1 comment:

  1. Good review Wendell. It was basically two movies placed into one, with the earliest one being a lot scarier.