I've always believed that the reason we get so many horrible low-budget horror films is this: our favored genre is generally the first stop for neophyte film producers who have no idea what they're doing -- but are pretty sure that horror movies equal big profits. Over my years of covering horror films of all budgets and from every corner of the globe, I've become pretty good at spotting the real McCoy from the money-grubbing posers, and as much as I hate to get angry and/or personal, the recent anthology known as The Perfect House is most assuredly a member of the latter camp. I'd go as far as to call it one of the most pointless, soulless, ugly, and disgusting horror films of the past ten years, but that's precisely the sort of press this film is after.
A three-story omnibus piece wrapped in a garish and goofy wrap-around framework (that could have been cribbed from The House that Dripped Blood, if I actually believed these filmmakers would sit down with a 1971 Hammer film), The Perfect House is "about" nothing more than a house in which three horrific things have happened in the past. A strangely sexual real estate agent shows a pair of idiots around a house, and we're jolted back to...
Story #1 -- Two murderous kids stuck in a basement during a storm reveal all sorts of ugly secrets about their past.
Story #2 -- A caged, shrieking woman tries to argue, antagonize, and infuriate the vicious torturer who has her trapped in a basement.
Story #3 -- A sleazy neighbor forces an annoying couple to murder all of their children.
Pretty dark stuff, right? No. Shocking, incendiary, and daring? Nope. It's all garbage.
In the hands of some filmmakers who actually treated issues like rape, torture, and child murder with some degree of delicacy and respect, the material broached in The Perfect House could make for some truly unsettling horror fare. Unfortunately, co-directors Kris Hulbert and Randy Kent seem well aware of how silly and generic their stories are -- and so they ramp the "torture and suffering" up to eleven in an effort to distract you from the flat, amateurish acting performances, the consistently dippy and dreary screenplay, and the flick's overall air of low-rent, sleazy desperation.
And I'm not talking about problems inherent in low-budget features. There are horror flicks that cost half the price of The Perfect House that display infinitely more mood, style, and spookiness. The problem here is that none of the material is even remotely scary, but man, is it gross. The first story goes relatively tame on the visual ugliness (although it's still unsavory), the second tale shoots for some frank Hostel-style gore-slinging, but is perpetually undone by the stupid script and the hilariously overwrought performances. Ugly material, blandly presented, with extra gristle. Big deal.
But then we get to the heart of The Perfect House, and it's a vile heart indeed. Story #3 deals with a dinner party gone horribly wrong, and focuses mainly on a screeching mother who is tied down and forced to watch her whole family get stabbed to death. On the screen, the material is as ugly as it sounds: teenage girls being raped and little boys stabbing each other to death and even more "highlights" to behold, but since the film offers no art, no insight, no point... it begins to feel a lot like faux-snuff. Because if you can't scare or unsettle people, you may as well revile them to a degree that courts a little controversy.
From a horror fiend who has seen the roughest of the rough stuff out there, and has lived to not only tell the tale but praise the films, trust me on this one: The Perfect House is a worthless affair. I'm only slightly offended by the way The Perfect House handles such harsh material with such childlike clumsiness, but I'm actually a little pissed off that the thing has even found a distributor.
And if this review has enticed you to see what I'm so damn annoyed about, feel free to rent the nasty little thing yourself. (It's available on Facebook at this very moment.) I hope it hasn't.