My notes on the horror film, out on digital from Grimm Entertainment.
‘Although it may sound like a good time, getting stoned and going to a haunted house is never a good idea.’ – Anonymous
The go-to Necronomicons or Golden Boughs for the current crop of horror filmmakers in search of ideas for spooky movies are creepypastas – urban legends or tall tales or that go viral via Youtube videos, passed-around-on-the internet true crime/ghost stories or collected on dubious sites. Best known of these net-promulgated (and, let’s face it, net-generated) myths is the Slenderman, who has been the subject of documentaries and inspired a few fiction or semi-fiction films.
The House on Kirby Road drawn from another creepypasta, though the version used here seems a tad generic – a husband caught his wife in adultery (Kirby Road is supposed to be in Ontario, but different towns are mentioned online) and killed her, her lover, the kids and himself. His hanging red-eyed ghost is visible like several other franchise fiends in mirrors or (as established but not really used here) any reflective surface. He’s supposed to collect gouged eyes, but only one character even gets one eye poked out. The film opens with the spooky clip of folks coming to a vague bad end in the house, then spends nearly an hour of an 85-minute running time getting six twentyfiveish teenagers to the house to smoke pot, play spin-the-bottle, sort of hook up and witter on about their lives (and phone apps) before the first glimpse of the spook in the mirror. Imagine the ten minutes of Night of the Demon before the manifestations start stretched out to an hour, with a comedy condom-buying routine, hijinx with mobile phones, a homemade ouija board which prompts memories of the aptly-titled and spot-on parody short Hell No (‘do you want to come to the abandoned asylum and play with a ouija board?’ ‘Hell no!’) and a decent enough cast stuck with utterly generic teen movie archetypes – sensitive guy Drew (Chris Kapeleris, of the other drugs and demons picture Beyond Hell), nice girl Jordan (Nina Kiri, of Let Her Out), trampy blonde Becca (Sammi Barber), class clown (ie: roaring asshole) Truggers (Austin Duffy), bespectacled virgin Lucky (Andrew Pimento) and lap-dancing slut Zoe (Samantha Cole, of Bed of the Dead).
This will probably be remembered as the film where it takes a whole hour to kill fucking Truggers – though some credit is due to Duffy for throwing himself so completely into the role of cackling stoner horndog idiot that it might affect his future career prospects. Cole, the only African-American in the cast, is a knockout in the dance department but gets her kill offscreen and seems to have wandered in from one of those other Haunted House movies. When the ghost finally manifests, he just possesses Becca – who finally offs Truggers with the ‘80s splatter trope of sticking her hand through his back and out his front with his heart clutched and squeezed – while invisibly manifesting to drag Lucky into the air by his hoodie and set him up for a bit of unlikely foot abuse involving a board with nails stuck through it (remember – it is dangerous playing around in old houses). Four of the kids are got out of the way fairly quickly, so the finale comes between the lifelong pals who’ve just copped to their mutual attraction – with possession, hanging (involving a rickety contraption), throttling and a twist ending you’d have seen coming on a 1973 TV movie hurried through in the haste to get to the cheery end credits stoner song. So, it takes an age to get going and then rushes through overfamiliar material – but it has a kind of Prom Night-ish amiability that’s disarming. Even if it’s hard to warm up to Truggers and Lucky, the rest of the kids are at least decent company while the plot-wheels are spinning en route to Kirby Road. Co-written by Adam Rodness and director Stu Stone.