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Jonathan Weichsel Written by Jonathan Weichsel
Oct. 16, 2012





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THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES, a Shriekfest 2012 review


The House With 100 Eyes



2012 marks my fourth year in a row reviewing Shriekfest for Film Radar and before that Valley Scene Magazine. As usual, I watched all of the features and most of the shorts. This year was a little different than years past, because there was one film which towered high above the rest. Part of this is because the festival lineup was remarkably weak, but The House with 100 Eyes is a film that I am genuinely in love with, and writer-director-star Jim Roof is a filmmaker who I am genuinely excited about.

I want to watch horror that is smart. I love horror that presents a skewed vision of reality, that is macabre, subversive, and fun, that peals away the top layer of humdrum everyday life to show us the violence right beneath the surface, that is anarchic, unrestrained, and fearless, and that breaks the rules. And I know I am not alone. Nobody wants to watch horror that is safe.

Yet all too often I am presented with horror that is bland, superficial, innocuous, lazy, boring, and most hazardously, that has nothing to say. 

So, when I discover a horror movie that has just two or three elements that I love about horror, I get very excited. The House with 100 Eyes is the kind of horror movie that is only produced a couple of times a decade, if that. As I sat in the half empty theater, everything I have always loved about horror unspooled itself right before my eyes. The dialogue was dripping with sarcasm, and the situations the characters were placed in were overripe irony. From start to finish, there was a weird kind of humor that enhanced the creepiness of the film rather than detracting from it. The violence was over the top and truly shocking. I was where every film critic wants to be: in the presence of undiscovered greatness.

The first thing you will notice about The House with 100 eyes is that the acting is terrific. This is a film that features big, bold performances from the entire cast. Star Jim Roof commands each scene he is in while playing a character who is so unhinged that it is impossible to guess what he will do or say next, and Shannon Malone, playing his tragically naïve but equally insane wife, serves as the perfect foil, but even the performances from the actors playing bit parts, such as the three skid row junkies, are memorable and uncomfortably familiar.

The writing is equally sharp. The dark humor, witty dialogue, and truly sick jokes had me laughing so hard that by the end of the film my ribs hurt. The characters are complex and feel familiar even though they are as alien as they could possibly be. Each set piece is more over the top and outrageous than the next. The story works within the confines of its own skewed logic.

Now that you get the idea, it is time for me to admit something that I didn’t want to say upfront. The House with 100 Eyes is a found footage horror film. Please don’t stop reading. I hated found footage horror films before it was cool to hate them. Found footage, by definition, strives to show you only what’s on the surface, while horror needs to go deeper. The House with 100 Eyes is the Grand Guignol of found footage horror. The film brilliantly holds up a funhouse mirror to found footage horror, showing us a distorted, deformed, dark carnival version of something that has become way too familiar.

Ed and Susan are a husband and wife team who produce snuff films from their home for commercial distribution. Ed wants to produce the biggest snuff film in history, featuring a triple kill, and all the bonus features and commentary you would expect from a standard issue DVD.

But, the triple kill is logistically bigger than what he and his wife have the resources to pull off, and things quickly start to go wrong in the most darkly comical ways imaginable. What follows are gory, comedic, anarchic set pieces and characters that develop in directions you will not foresee as Ed desperately tries to put his magnum opus back on track.

Beyond that, I don’t want to give too much away about the plot. A film like this requires an element of surprise to work, and I don’t want to spoil a thing. The House with 100 Eyes is not for everybody. About ten people walked out in the first half an hour because the film was too gory for them. Those losers missed out on the premier of one of the greatest horror films of the century.

You can check out my review of last year’s Shriekfest right here: http://www.filmradar.com/horror_blog/item/shriekfest_favorites/


First Comment:

  1. Hello, I’m a big fan of the director, Jay Lee. “Zombie Strippers!” and “Alyce” are my favorites. His film always has both unique dialogue and shocking gorefest. That’s what I love. I’ve been waiting for this movie’s DVD for almost a year. Hope they will release it soon. Your review is great and makes me excited. I feel like, “yes! that’s what I’d watch!” I wrote about this movie in my blog earlier. I quoted your words and linked to you. Hope you don’t mind.

    http://curse.jp/news/20130327104918.html

    Sorry my blog is written in Japaneese. I’m a Japanese. There’s no other language available. You can see how it looks anyway. I translated your words to Japanese. I believe my readers would enjoy it.

    Thank you.

    Posted by tinker on 03/26 at 06:53 PM

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