February 26, 2019 The House (Movie Review)
A quick list of rules that should always be followed: Look both ways before crossing a road; never light a match at a gas station while fueling a vehicle; and never, ever, under any circumstance, explore a house circled by trees, and hidden from the outside world… because it might be haunted. No matter how homey the house appears, it is destined to be full of ghosts and goblins.
Of course, without haunted houses, the market would not be flooded with so many haunted-house movies these days. In order for any of these films to grab hold of an audience, it takes creativity, and a lot of heart to make something stand out, rather than watching the same, old, tiring stuff. Writer/Director Reinert Kiil (The Whore 2009, Christmas Blood 2017) knows a thing or three on how to make a haunted-house movie work, and accomplishes this with his latest release The House (aka Huset), coming to DVD and VOD Tuesday, March 5, 2019 through Artsploitation Films.
Kiil turns the tables on the haunted-house theme, trading mediocre and typical for a genuinely spooky, overly involving Horror movie based around the dastardly events of WWII. In Kiil’s story, two stranded Nazis escort a wounded Norwegian soldier through a forest that seems like a maze without an exit… until the three men come across a house in the middle of nowhere. Upon the stove, a soup simmers. The lights are on, and the heat is working. In the living area, an old radio airs important news briefs; the announcer barely audible. As the men settle in, re-mapping their situation, they soon realize they are not alone.
The greatest strength of The House is how much mood, spook, and atmosphere Kiil brings to the forefront. The heart of the viewer will pound during every second as anticipation possesses the mind and body. The world Kiil has created here is fantastic, which will leave a lasting impression long after the film ends. Three characters, and one house: Despite what horrific nature occurs within the film—the small cast, and simple surrounding make for an intimate viewing.
The dialogue is quite good, filled not with a single ounce of cliché. The cinematography is a highlight, too. Certain key moments are captured in ways which help change the mood throughout the movie. Also a highlight is how the scenery seems to change in hue as the film progresses, as if different filters were used on the camera.
The actors chosen to portray their characters could not have been a better picked bunch as the ones seen in The House. Actor Mats Reinhardt (Die Rosenheim-Cops series, Der Reichstag 2017) gives his character, Nazi-colonel Jurgen Kreiner, the straight-faced, yet calm, and all-together treatment, which just adds so much depth to the story. At times Kreiner will seem full of heart, regardless of his Nazi ways, but will show signs of the latter during certain moments that will drop the jaw. A truly great actor, Reinhardt’s portrayal in The House will not be forgotten.
Actor Frederik von Lüttichau (Allies 2014, A Room To Die For 2017) plays as Andreas Fleiss, a lively, but anxious Nazi soldier. Fleiss is strict to the Nazi rules and command, and wants nothing more but to win the war. Soon, Fleiss begins to wish he were out in combat rather than stay another second in the house, especially as he starts to hear and see things. Lüttichau breathes new life into the trope of skittish characters whose very sanity is put to the test. His performance as a brave soldier-turned-cringer is quite a performance to see unfold on the big screen. Lüttichau is the perfect match for Reinhardt, both of whom do so well together in their roles.
Rounding out the cast is Sondre Krogtoft Larsen (Detour 2009, Christmas Blood 2017), portraying baby-faced Norwegian soldier Rune Henriksbö, who is wounded in the leg, and at the mercy of the enemy—the Nazis. Rune gives off good vibes, in spite of the war-time circumstances, appearing to be a soldier hopeful that the world will stop fighting, that the war would vanish, and that everyone will be good to one another, but as things in the house starts getting weirder and weirder, Rune drifts further and further into another world.
Two minor downfalls of The House are the flashback scenes that show—or, unnecessarily explain—past events which had once occurred before the three soldiers had made their stopover, and the unneeded “jump-scares” which only happens a couple of times. Besides the the former and latter downfalls, The House is genuinely spooky, and has a way of keeping the audience frightened. The aforementioned “over involving” statement refers to how well Kiil keeps the eyes of the viewer always glued to the screen. The storyline, acting, and scenery of The House are the clever ways Kiil invites over his guests—the viewers—keeping them there until the last credit rolls away.
The House is a fantastic character-driven Supernatural/Horror film, which also has its walls and roof dipped in one or two other types of genres that will not be revealed here. Reinert Kiil has proven himself a great writer and director, and had an amazing bunch of actors make his house come to life. That is why Cryptic Rock give The House 4.5 out of 5 stars, and strongly suggests heeding to “rule #3.” If more proof is needed as to why—then you would have to see The House to understand.