By Ben Shearn | The Playlist November 23, 2011 at 5:35PM
There’s good and there’s bad in James Wan’s eight-film deal with Icon Entertainment International and Paradigm Motion Picture Finance Group.
The good is Wan (“Saw,” “Death Sentence,” “Insidious”) will be operating (both as producer and director) outside the studio system with seemingly artistic freedom. And since the distribution is guaranteed, it all has potential to generate a slate of deliciously gruesome B-grade horror flics – perhaps a modern Hammer Films-esque renaissance…sans Christopher Lee with false incisors, of course.
The bad is that we were most decidedly off the “Insidious”-train, and the Wan-train in general. As much as we want a low-budget horror film to evoke that great mid-late '70s era of the genre, “Insidious” (to us) felt just as bloated and convoluted as most modern horror. Despite the modest, quasi-industrial production value.
So. It’s with a dubious slant that we report (via ShockTilYouDrop) that Wan’s chosen Xavier Gens – director of the French bone-crusher “Frontier(s),” the American brain-numbing “Hitman,” and the post-apocalyptic Michael Biehn-snarler “The Divide” – to helm the first film in Wan’s Icon deal: “House of Horror.” Wan’s been kicking the script (by newcomer Max La Bella) around for a while now, at one time had Spanish director F. Javier Gutiérrez (“Before the Fall”) attached, but has finally zeroed in on his God of carnage with Gens. We can’t say hopes are exceedingly high for “House of Horror” – which gloms onto the post-“Blair Witch Project” found footage format (i.e. “Paranormal Activity,” “The Last Exorcism”) that’s possibly the only stylistic trend pulling us out of the current torture porn slum. And the autonomy of Wan’s deal along with its dependence on foreign rather than American studio money is moderately promising. So we'll see how this goes.
Here’s an early synopsis of “House of Horror”:
“The Devil made me do it.
The House of Horror is a horror-thriller that centres around a gruesome crime scene. The film is shot with a blend of found footage, interrogation video, news cameras and classical cinematography. The film focuses on the aftermath of a horrific massacre; five college students, brutally murdered inside a decrepit, abandoned home.
We are thrown right into the mix as the lead Detective, Mark Lewis, and the police department’s psychologist, Dr. Elizabeth Klein, question a suspect. The young man at the centre is John Ascot, bound by handcuffs in a mobile command station. During the interrogation, John explains everything leading up to the deaths of his friends.
We discover that they were amateur ghost-hunters, seeking out paranormal phenomenon at the abandoned house believed to be haunted. What started out as a harmless activity turned into something truly terrifying and more than they ever could bargain for. John explains to the police that he isn’t responsible for his friends’ deaths, but rather, it was the house. He tells them he believes the house is a gateway to hell; a place of concentrated evil.
We slowly witness an eerie change in John’s demeanour through the course of the movie. Things take a disturbing turn when John hints at the notion that he is possessed by the Devil. Detective Lewis and Dr. Klein are forced to unravel the mystery of how John’s friends were murdered. All this leads to a stunning revelation about the man they’ve been interrogating and a gut-wrenching conclusion