House of Purtagory
House of Purgatory is a refreshing take on the horror house genre and it is done outstandingly well.
Hello everyone Kevin of Film Fervor here bringing you another Independent film review. Today we will be discussing the 2016 psychological horror film House of Purgatory written and directed by Tyler Christensen and starring Anne Leighton, Brian Krause, Laura Coover, Marika Engelhardt, Aaron Galvin and Brad Fry.
House of Purgatory revolves around four high school friends who go looking for a famous urban legend haunted house that offers to reimburse your fee if you can make it through all five levels. In an abandoned field the four find the mythical house only to find the skeleton faced ticket keeper tell them all fees are waved on Halloween and they enter inside for some good clean fun. Things start to take a sinister turn as the creepy interior seems to become more and more real the further down they go. Their horror increases as each of the teens are forced to face their darkest secrets and soon discover the name of the haunted house is very apt indeed.
Justin’s Notes – A lot of my frustration with horror films these days comes from the overused and tired tropes that, otherwise, would make great content. House of Purgatory does something new with the haunted house story and while it may not be completely original, it is very well done.
The production quality of House of Purgatory is very high and professionally done camera and sound work. The cinematography is for the most part excellent with it’s use of creepy angles and proper close ups that never feel out of place or heavy handed just to give you a sense of claustrophobia. This is a mistake that many horror films make both in Hollywood and in the independent film market but House of Purgatory treats it with the respect that film makers like Wes Craven managed. The one down side to the cinematography however is the darkening of the picture in the night scenes and the low light scenes. Several times in the film the light is so low that you get a lot of noise and grainy shadows that it became quite annoying.
We recently were given a final production viewing of the film which eliminates all of the noise and low-light issues that Kevin was speaking about here. The final version of the film is solid, perfectly edited, and extremely well produced. This will absolutely push it over the edge for a 5/5, as the technical issues were the only thing holding it back a star.
The audio department however is top notch. The sound track of House of Purgatory is very well crafted and uses creepy sounds and eerie music to raise the tension of the scenes perfectly. I almost never fall for jump scares in movies but this one with it’s clever use of sound and disturbing scenes as well as the wonderful acting actually had me get a sense of foreboding several times in the film. The voices of the actors are always crystal clear and the sound was cleared up perfectly so you do not get any of the static or echo effects many would be horror films have.
House of Purgatory has a very fine list of mid card stars in its main roles. Almost all of the actors in the film have had several TV and film roles under their belts, either as important secondary characters( Brian Krause for example played Leo the Whitelighter in the hit TV show Charmed) or are fairly prolific character actors such as Torey Michael Adkins. Needless to say the acting is very top notch and all of the portray their characters in such a believable you defiantly truly feel empathy for them in their horrible situation.
This is thanks in part of course to the wonderful writing from writer/director Tyler Christensen’s outstanding script.
House of Purgatory is one of if not the best independent horror film I have seen. It goes back to the old school way of doing things without the use of CGI effects and offers up practical effects that almost seem to come from Dapper Cadaver prop shop (Hollywood’s go to horror prop maker). The use of eerie music, dark lighting and practical effects complete with terrific acting makes this a real gem of a film.
It doesn’t suffer from over used horror cliches nor is it to predictable that you lose interest in the plot of the film and to me really brings the horror genre up a notch especially in the Indy circuit and really I think Hollywood directors could take a page from this film and try to be as original as House of Purgatory manages. If you like horror films and (Like me) get a kick out of seeing mid card actors finally get a chance to show their stuff then at seventy five minutes House of Purgatory is very well worth the money.
I give it a very solid four out of five, it would have been a perfect score had it not been for the poor gain of the video in several places.
The film is available now on iTunes and Amazon, so check out this wonderfully morbid film and I look forward to seeing more of Tyler Christensen’s offerings in the future.
Check out their official website here: http://www.terrorfilms.net