Steve Miner’s House

There’s a lot going on here for a film with the simple and straightforward title ‘House,’ and not all of adds up for a coherent or clear minded horror flick but it’s still a lot of warped, gooey fun with some great 80’s practical effects, a decidedly anthology vibe despite, well, not being anthology at all really and the same kind of mischievous, rambunctious, irreverent tone to the horror that one might find in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films. It’s also directed by Steve Miner who has deep horror roots, having helmed the very first Friday The 13th long ago so the force is solidly strong with this one, in terms of horror speak. William Katt plays a writer who moves into a creaky old house with his family and before they even have a chance to unpack their shit his kid goes missing, like literally before you even get properly introduced to the characters, it’s wild and hilarious. As the ominous yet silly tone is set we also meet all kinds of other ghosts and ghoulies including some spectacularly gruesome monsters that live in the closet, a fat bottomed zombie girl who keeps showing up to torment him (this is where the film feels most like Evil Dead), some pesky sentient gardening tools that follow him around, George Wendt as his sorta friendly sorta nosy neighbour who keeps bringing him beer in offers that he rudely snubs and the mummified remains of an old Nam war buddy (Richard Moll) who come back to haunt and remind him of some psychological incident regarding the war that can’t be put to rest. There is a LOT going on and unfortunately the film can’t make proper sense of it or make it all feel like it’s coherently connected beyond a kind of scattered episodic feel, hence my references to anthology films above. However, what it lacks in clear vision it makes up for in cheer lunatic energy and boisterous charm, each oozy new set piece and special effect clearly showing a level of artistry, creation and off the wall deadpan humour that is impressive and fun, the acting from everyone, Wendt in particular, is very good and it all feels like everyone was having a good time.

-Nate Hill

Steve Miner’s Warlock

Steve Miner’s Warlock is billed as a horror film but it looks, feels and works better as a sort of time travel adventure deal. There are elements of horror, and the sequel (which I’ll review next) definitely dabbles in horror more hardcore but this is a rollicking, spirited jaunt from 1600’s New England through space and time to 1990’s L.A. as a hyperactive witch hunter (Richard E. Grant) pursued a dangerous supernatural sorcerer (Julian Sands) before he can collect enough dark magic to unleash the apocalypse or… something. It doesn’t matter what your specifics are when your effects, journey and overall atmosphere are this much fun. Sands is mercurial, devilish and relentless as the Warlock and he carefully walks a tightrope between being an unstoppable, faceless force of evil like some horror boogeymen and having his own unique charisma and panache, like others. Grant is ridiculously fun as the initially boorish, then gradually likeable and by the third act downright adorable witch hunter, sporting a coat right out of The Revenant and a mullet that Chuck Norris would be jealous of. Also he’s called “Giles Redferne,” which might be the coolest name ever in cinema, and he sure lives up to it. He meets a bubbly 90’s valley girl who has no interest joining forces with him until the Warlock puts a nasty aging spell on her and then, well, you can imagine. The effects are naturally of the 90’s variety but they have their own kitschy charm, especially during a hilariously shocking sequence where Sands literally kills a child and uses its blood for a flying potion so he can become a cruise missile and engage Redferne in a raucous highway car/flying Warlock chase. This is a fun one with elements of horror, dark comedy and swashbuckling tinged adventure all at play.

-Nate Hill