Filmed in Italy (and bearing a 2013 copyright date) under the rather ironic title BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE Brini Amerigo’s mashup up of home invasion and zombie films finally reaches North American shores as DEAD HOUSE. Does this live up to the legacy of Fulci and Argento or is it another FIRST HOUSE ON THE HILL?
Testamento (Alex Lucchesi ALIENWEEN, EATERS), Nibbio (Danny Cutler THE ANTWERP DOLLS), and his brother Brett (Alex Southern) are into home invasions. The film opens with them forcing a couple to have sex in front of them, and the couple’s daughter. When the results are unsatisfying they kill all three. We then see a woman wake up in a blood-smeared room and be eaten by what look like zombies. And someone is watching it on a monitor.
After the credits, we’re introduced to John (David White ANGER OF THE DEAD, HAUNTED) and his family. If you guess they’re next on the trio’s list you’re right. But John has a secret in his basement, one that you can also probably guess. Soon everyone will be fighting for their lives. And there’s a short sequence after the credits you might want to stick around for.
If nothing else, DEAD HOUSE is certainly an interesting hybrid. Starting in realistic home invasion territory before moving into mad scientist/zombie territory and adding some conspiracy theory for good measure. The home invasion sequences are certainly unpleasant and squirm-inducing, if not quite up to the level of FUNNY GAMES.
The zombies don’t become a factor until after the film’s halfway point, but they certainly make up for it when they arrive. The makeup on them, and the mutant creature that turns up near the end, is impressive. There’s also some good practical gore as well. Granted there’s also the usual CGI blood spray but it’s nice to see real effects getting extensive use.
On the downside, nobody in this film is really likable which makes it hard to care if they live or die. Granted that does fit in with the film’s grim, cynical tone and there’s an audience for that kind of film. But for others, it makes it hard to get fully into the film.
DEAD HOUSE is available from Wild Eye Releasing.