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Review: HINSDALE HOUSE (2019)

Horror movies about the making of horror movies are fairly common. Even more common are horror movies based on urban legends. Hinsdale House combines the two. Then it goes above and beyond by adding “shot in the actual haunted house” for the hat trick. Is it all buzzwords and no substance, or does it deliver on its marketing hype?

Hinsdale House is an actual location in Hinsdale NY with a history that dates back to the early 1970s. The movie drops a crew filming a horror movie into it and lets them deal with the all to real horrors within. Pauly (writer/director Steve Stanulis) and his tech (co-writer Derek Ross Mackay) have rigged the house and property with cameras. That includes, as we soon find out, the actresses’ bedrooms.

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It doesn’t take long for the weirdness to start. Pauly and his leading lady/girlfriend Liz (Marisa Bertani) retire to their room only for her to start acting possessed. Kelly (Victoria Oliver) starts getting ready for bed before she’s distracted first by the discovery of a camera and then some strange noises. As she heads back downstairs the power goes out. And people begin disappearing.

The survivors need to find out what is going on or at least a way out before its too late. But their attempts to leave bring them back to where they started. Or worse.

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Despite the use of surveillance cameras, Hinsdale House isn’t a found footage film. We do see some of the events through those cameras, but there’s also plenty of conventional footage as well. The problem is the footage isn’t very interesting. Most of the time, people just vanish. The camera cuts away to whoever they’re talking to, and they’re gone when it comes back.

There’s the occasional footage of a glowing orb, but it doesn’t do much except drift around. Hinsdale House is 65 minutes of people wandering around in the dark saying they’re scared. And doing such a bad job, it’s annoying. The last half-hour features the final girl doing such a bad job of faking crying and wailing that if I wasn’t going to review it, I would have turned it off. And that doubly sucked because she handled her more normal scenes quite well.

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Stanulis and Mackay previously collaborated on Clinton Road. Like that film, Hinsdale House is based on a Western New York folk tale. Unlike it, however, it has a nonexistent budget and no effects. Granted neither film makes much sense but at least Clinton Road was energetically silly enough to be entertaining. This just plods along to an ending that had me wondering what I just saw.

Hinsdale House is available to stream. You can check the film’s website and Facebook page for more details. The actual house has a webcam feed on its site you can look for ghosts on. It’s probably scarier than this was.

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