The House (2012)

A big yawn followed by a yell of ‘What the hell is THAT!?’ – this probably sums up my experience of Monthon Arayangkoon’s The House; a j-horror style haunted house flick with added blood and insanity. Although exceptionally creepy in places, The House fails miserably to develop a compelling storyline. Some of the crazed imagery will stick with you, but little else is worth remembering…

The House is about – shockingly – a house that has attracted its fair share of deaths. Situated behind a hospital it is often used as temporary housing for medical students and those who’ve lived there often cite weird hauntings or – on occasion – just go mad and butcher their loved ones.

The most recent killing becomes relatively high-profile, so a newspaper (I think) sends possibly the worst journalist on the planet to investigate. Chalinee (Intira Jaroenpura) looks into the case by breaking into the house and – with no discernable deadline pending – the sum total of her ‘article’ is a tiny spider-diagram with a big question-mark inside. Pulitzer here we come!

Many horror films elicit a response of “don’t do that!” or “don’t go in there!” aimed at the protagonist throughout, but The House only has one. “Don’t go in that fucking house!!” But Chalinee does, and then everything gets a little insane…

I spent the first 30 minutes saying “What the fuck is THAT?” over and over again as weird and scary shit just kept on happening. Chalinee constantly hallucinates or is transported back into the house to witness more batshit crazy blood-letting, smoke-ghosting weirdness. Sometimes it’s a little TOO random and you lose a sense of direction and time. Perhaps intentional, perhaps an awkward mistake, The House is frequently baffling.

Filmed like a TV movie on a cheap camcorder by a director with zero flare, when it’s not raising chills The House excruciatingly dull… but luckily it is frequently chilling. Bizarrely the direction gets more competent as the film progresses as if Monthon Arayangkoon learned his craft DURING the creation of The House. It’s a strange experience.

Unfortunately Arayangkoon and co-writer Sompope Vejchapipat provide some exceptionally poor dialogue (perhaps a translation issue) which is all exposition and ridiculously on-the-nose, which aids in making the non-scary moments seriously bore.

The acting isn’t appalling but certainly isn’t superb, with a reasonable performance from Thai pop-star Intira Jaroenpura. The film is kicked up a notch by an exceptionally demented performance by Khomsan Nanthajit as Dr Chalerm, an imprisoned murderer with an unforgettable smile. He is excellent in every scene.

Whether a statement on Thailand’s poor economic situation or simply some choice set design, The House features hospitals, houses and prisons that wouldn’t look out of place in Silent Hill. It’s grotesquely dank and disgusting and wonderfully atmospheric; again, another surprisingly addition to a somewhat confused film.

Overall The House is a very muddled experience; it is disturbing, creepy, bloody and surprising but simultaneously poorly scripted and horribly dull when not scaring the shit out of you. The House is enjoyable but massively flawed.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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