08th Jun2017

‘House of Evil’ DVD Review

by Mondo Squallido

Stars: Andrew Harwood, Lucy Drive, Désirée Giorgetti, David White, Eleonora Marianelli | Written by Lorenzo Paviano, Raffaele Picchio | Directed by Luca Boni, Marco Ristori


John (Andrew Harwood) and his wife Kate (Lucy Drive) seem to have it all. They have just moved in to a beautiful house in the Italian countryside (it definitely looks Italian at least.), they are making waves with their photography and painting and to top it off, they are planning for a baby. However, there seems to trouble in their rural paradise and I don’t just mean Kate’s rather dishy, yet invasive friend Corinne (Désirée Giorgetti). You see, there may be something sinister going on in the house potentially involving its previous tenants. Maybe it’s just John and Kate going stir-crazy? Maybe the suspiciously British local priest (David White) has some answers for the couple?

OK. One thing that really stands out about House of Evil is just how beautiful it looks. Pretty much every scene could be a promotional still. Tommaso Alvisi has done a great job collaborating with Marco Dardari and Samuele Valente. There’s a great use of focus, each shot is staged beautifully and although it occasionally comes across as looking like an instagram filter, the colours throughout really work well, almost at the same level of early Argento. In fact, watching this reminded me so much of Italian horror and gialli. Even the house itself reminds me of Salò with a hint of The House With Laughing Windows. It’s clear that this is an Italian production, it definitely has that visual flair. That being said, the film comes across as overly-pretentious. Think Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani collaborating with Peter Strickland.

Apart from being visually stunning, there wasn’t really anything about House of Evil that seemed original (which isn’t always a bad thing!) or grabbing to me. There were sound issues throughout that threw me off a bit and the music could and should have been something special. The film reminded me of Amityville Horror meets Rosemary’s Baby and I’m sure there are many films that could I could have thrown out there. When the film isn’t dragging along at a snails pace, it awkwardly jumps from scene to scene thanks to haphazard editing. There were times where I had to re-watch the previous scene in case I missed anything because the current scene didn’t make sense and that’s a glaring error for me. I also had trouble with Andrew Harwood and Lucy Drive’s American accents at some points. It’s a nitpick I know, but it’s a massive pet peeve to me. The characters could have been British and the film would have been better for it especially when the local priest is British!

All in all, this was something of a missed opportunity and quite an unfortunate experience. There’s real talent here and it’s such a shame that the film panned out like it did. Still, it has more artistic and intellectual merit than something like Amer.

Italian film fans should definitely give House of Evil a watch purely for how reminiscent the film is of Italian cinema in the 70’s and 80’s.

House of Evil is out on DVD now from High Fliers.


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