Cabin in the woods flicks are a dime a dozen in 2018, and what sets a movie apart from the herd falls directly on the levels of originality and actual scare factor. When I started my viewing of House on Elm Lake, I was ready to massacre this title in my review. Aside from the incredibly effective and goretastic opening sequence, I found the next twenty minutes to be a snooze-fest, and I automatically assumed the rest of the movie was going to lack any redeemable qualities. Boy, was I wrong! House on Elm Lake turned it way the Hell around and even provided me with two genuine jumps due to fright. Way to go, team! It’s safe to say that this title has both of the before-mentioned points that make it a worthy addition to any horror film fan’s movie collection. Written by Shannon Holiday, House on Elm Lake follows a young couple and their daughter as they move into lakeside cabin that once served as the location of a grizzly Satanic ritual. Shortly after moving in, the family discovers that the evil entity awakened years ago still lingers on the property, and it’s ready to enact a sinister plan once again. Becky Fletcher, Andrew Hollingworth, Faye Goodwin, Lorena Andrea, Tara MacGowran, Tony Manders, Kate Lush and Oliver Ebsworth star in this new addition to the Wild Eye Releasing catalog that further proves that the distribution company is stepping its game up.
A Proportion Productions film, House on Elm Lake starts with the promise of peace and tranquility before tearing the family (and their souls) apart. Picturesque forests, a log cabin, a loving family – what could possibly go wrong? It’s on the same level as Pet Semetary where everyone knows the history of the property and even warn the owners of its malevolence, but the news mostly falls on deaf ears until its too late. This leads to a lot of talking, a lot of discovering, and a lot of character progression; but it doesn’t leave much in the realm of horror. The viewer knows a bloody ritual took place on the property several years before at the hands of a lunatic fanatic, however, outside of a few ghostly encounters the horror is noticeably absent from the film. Sure, the acting is above average, but not nearly enough to hold my interest. Everything changes one night while the mother is watching television and a mysterious figure walks along the window-line. It jarred me considerably, and reminded me that the family isn’t as safe as they think they are; and maybe there’s more things happening in the dark on the property than ghosts and curses. The next stepping stone in building the suspense and horror comes when the mother and her friend use a Ouija board to contact any spirits on the property. This, of course, kickstarts another chain of events that ushers in House on Elm Lake‘s most horrifying moments… including an old naked man popping up behind a table.
This leads me to my next point that House on Elm Lake is pretty in your face when it comes to primitive behavior and sexuality. There’s a couple softcore sex scenes involving nudity, and the naked man is a recurring character when moments get darkest. Throw in an uncomfortable rape scene, and House on Elm Lake takes the viewer back to basics when one considers The Devil himself and practices of the occult. Primal urges like sex, unembarrassed pursuits, and taking what you want in the heat of the moment. Not the best themes in the world, and yet it continued to put House on Elm Lake on its own disturbing path towards destruction. Throw in a truckload of gore, creepy Halloween costumes, and a not-so-happy conclusion and House on Elm Lake is just… dark. The film is directed, edited and executively produced by James Klass. It was produced by Rebecca Matthews, Scott Jeffrey and Tara MacGowran with cinematography from Edward Lui. It’s a movie you’re going to have to stick with. It starts slow, but builds its momentum at an alarming rate. Twisted, uncomfortable, gory, bizarre, primitive – this one’s got it all. An unexpected thrill ride and a nightmare event for the ages. I was shocked and surprised; mostly that I ended up enjoying it as much as I did. Well worth the price of purchase. Final Score: 7.5 out of 10.