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Review: ‘Death House’ Grinds to a Halt as a Full Feature

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Review: 'Death House' Grinds to a Halt as a Full Feature

Imagine a horror movie with cameos from the likes of Bill Moseley, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Michael Berryman, Sid Haig, Vernon Wells, Lloyd Kaufman, Felissa Rose and many more. The chances are that the film you just thought up in your head is much more interesting and exciting than Death House.

This really was a wasted opportunity. The chance to use these icons of the genre was squandered on an incoherent, rather boring 90 minutes that felt a lot longer. It might have worked as a fun short film but the pacing grinds to a halt as a full feature.

Written by the late Gunnar Hansen, it’s about a prison full of serial killers that suddenly suffers a power outage. The inmates take this opportunity to run amok and eat the staff. The premise sounds very promising. I mean how hard is it to make that exciting? Unfortunately It feels like the film makers put real effort into boring the audience.

Death House Michael Berryman

The main appeal will be the impressive cast list. Dee Wallace, Kane Hodder and Barbara Crampton get more screen time than the other stars. They do the best they can but no amount of effort can save this film.

The major issue is that there is a serious lack of structure, pacing and characterisation. The two leads who we follow through the high tech prison are not given the opportunity to win us over. We simply don’t care whether they survive.

The film also feels tortuously overlong. Not much seems to happen for the first half. Dull scenes explaining the functions of the facility could have been shortened. The focus should have been on the chaos that ensues during the blackout.

Death House Kane Hodder

There are some moments that are worth seeing. The grisly, monstrous human experiments of the Death House showcase some truly nightmarish makeup. There is also a loving tribute to the Gunnar Hansen.

I can see what Hansen was trying to do. There are numerous scenes that discuss the fracturing of modern morality. Unfortunately his script was not given the budget or quality production it deserved.

They should have embraced the schlocky premise and created a fun gore fest. Instead we got a meandering mess. There was a moment where a man is being savagely beaten to death and I thought “this is very boring.” That’s not a good sign!

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