House on Elm Lake Poster

Review: HOUSE ON ELM LAKE (2017)

You get an incredible deal on a beautiful house, a house on a lake no less, that’s mysteriously sat vacant for years. Shortly after moving in, you find a book bound in skin of some sort and a strange red liquid oozes out of the house’s plumbing. You get the hell out, right? Not if you’re the family who just bought the HOUSE ON ELM LAKE.

After a prologue in which we see why none of the locals will buy the house at any price, we jump into the main story. Hayley (Becky Fletcher UNHINGED, MUMMY REBORN), Eric (Andrew Hollingworth PET GRAVEYARD, THE HAUNTED HOTEL) and their daughter Penny (Faye Goodwin 12 DEATHS OF CHRISTMAS) move into the house and almost immediately Eric encounters the aforementioned book and plumbing issues.

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Eric soon begins seeing things, having odd dreams, and generally acting like he’s starring in a cheap knockoff of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. Penny finds a doll that belonged to the last child to live there and begins drawing creepy pictures. A session with an Ouija board goes badly. A psychic is called in. And so it goes up to the predictable climax.

The scariest thing about HOUSE ON ELM LAKE is just how predictable it is, and usually in the worst ways. The number of clichés on display is staggering, as is the number of times the characters ignore what’s going on and stay put. I don’t care how tight money is, if I wake up with what looks like the Devil’s Mark branded on to my thigh, I’m getting out. And that’s one of the earlier incidents in the film.

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Director James Klass and co-writer Shannon Holiday have put together a laundry list of basic haunted house plot elements and then lifelessly filmed them. The last few minutes try to pick the pace up, but it’s too late by then. If the film had tapped into the third act’s unpleasantness sooner and not been so bland, it might have at least stood out.  One thing that did catch my attention though was the similarities in both plots, cast and character names to a 2014 film LUCIFER’S NIGHT.  I’d love to know the story behind that. It certainly has to be more interesting than HOUSE ON ELM LAKE.

Wild Eye Releasing debuts HOUSE ON ELM LAKE, April 10th.

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