Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The Legend of Hell House
The Legend of Hell House is a throw back to classic haunted house movies like The Haunting and House on Haunted Hill, with a little bit of sex and violence thrown in to update it for the 70's. Like those films, it tries to play up a central mystery as to whether or not something supernatural is going on, or if there is a rational explanation for the strange events. I think the main reason I was mostly indifferent to this one, despite some solid technical credentials, is that it goes about this the wrong way. The problem is that the events are clearly supernatural, and the only mystery is whether or not it is being caused by a ghost, or by the psychic powers of some of the main characters. The tension in this type of story is supposed to be between the real and the fantastical, but here it's between one ludicrous supernatural explanation and another equally ludicrous supernatural explanation. Whatever "rationality vs faith" (or however you want to term it) debate there is raised by the story is immediately made moot, and I spent most of the movie wondering why they even bothered making it a mystery at all. The film's frequent stabs at trying to seem authoritative and plausible just make it all the more silly. It opens up with a disclaimer that though the film is work of fiction, it's based on stuff that, like, could totally possibly happen or something. Which is some pretty hilarious bullshit.
On the other hand, the film does star Roddy McDowell, which counts for a lot.