Judging by his latest film, The Haunting of Hythe House, writer/director/producer Steven M. Smith (I Am Hooligan, Scare Attraction) is a little upset that his films haven’t been getting good reviews. And while I’m sure making it made him feel better, I have my doubts that it’s the best way to deal with the problem.
Danny (Luke Stevenson, Doll House, John Lennon’s Turd) aka Danny the Destroyer, does film reviews on some social media platform, we’re not told which. He loves to post shit about indie films and it’s gotten him ten million followers. We see him watching what looks like scenes from some of the director’s other films and hear what he’s posting about them.
That is until a voice (Michelle Archer, Curse of the Witch’s Doll, Unhinged) informs him that he’s been hacked in retaliation for a review so bad it made someone kill themselves. Unless he wants his identity and dirty secrets made public, he’s going to do what the voice tells him. It sends him to Hythe House, abandoned, haunted and allegedly the hiding places of a fortune in stolen jewelry. Now fitted out with cameras it’s going to be the location for Danny’s first movie. All he has to do is survive the next twenty-four hours and find the hidden treasure.
My first issue with The Haunting of Hythe House is how someone so fragile that a single review drove them to suicide managed to make a film. The creative arts have always been subject to criticism, some of it very brutal, somebody that sensitive would be in the wrong line of work. Surely criticism of the scripts they wrote along the way would have taken its toll before they got that far.
Once we actually get to the house itself I was hoping The Haunting of Hythe House would get better. Unfortunately, they don’t. Danny wanders around making stupid comments and the control voice pops up occasionally to shriek in our ear. Thankfully it’s absent through most of the rest of the film as it was so annoying I was tempted to turn the film off before it gave me a headache.
We also find out that Danny isn’t the first person that’s been brought here to play these games. Footage of the others pops up randomly from time to time, it’s not even worked into the The Haunting of Hythe House’s plot as found footage we just cut away to it. Or maybe it isn’t footage and they are all there at the same time but for some reason don’t notice each other?
The Haunting of Hythe House never makes it clear just what is going on. Did the ghosts bring him, and presumably the others there? Was whoever was behind the hack simply using the ghosts to do their dirty work? Or were they making a supernatural snuff movie? How come the ghostly maids can inflict wounds without touching their victims but the one that actually does the killing needs to use a noose, sledgehammer, etc.?
Not that it matters because The Haunting of Hythe House never comes remotely close to being scary or even interesting. It’s eighty-five minutes of tedium marked by occasional feeble attempts at scares. If it was meant as a middle finger to critics, myself included, who have given Smith’s films bad reviews it didn’t work and will only get him more bad reviews if it’s noticed at all. Ironically, it seemed he had found the best way to avoid bad reviews, make better movies. The last two of Smith’s films that I’d seen, Dead Again and The Ghosts of Borley Rectory, were much better than what he’d done previously.
ITN has made The Haunting of Hythe House available on several streaming platforms, including YouTube if you don’t mind commercials. They might actually keep you awake.