A Step in the Right Direction for Christian Cinema
Zachary Roesch - wrote on 11/24/08
Anybody who is at all familiar with Ted Dekker’s or Frank Peretti’s work was waiting on pins and needles for the film adaptation of House, a horror novel that the two wrote together. With these two masters of the supernatural thriller genre coming together and creating a riveting book, fans were hoping that the movie would be equally as exciting. Now I know that there are skeptics out there that are saying, “Hold on a second, Dekker and Peretti are Christian authors. So that would make the movie and Christian horror movie.” Yes, that is exactly what I am saying, and trust me, it’s not as bad as it sounds, plus Kirk Cameron had nothing to do with it. House breaks many stereotypes when it comes being to a Christian film but it when it comes to the horror aspects I felt like I was taken on an emotional roller coaster without having the satisfaction of having my pants scared off.
House opens with an intense scene of a man murdering his wife. The reason to why he does this is unclear. All we know is that someone is demanding a dead body. This automatically draws the viewer into the story and sets the tone for the rest of the movie. After this scene we are given a break from the intensity and are introduced to two of the main characters, Jack (Reynaldo Rosales) and Stephanie (Heidi Dippold) a married couple struggling through the death of their daughter and on the verge of a divorce. They are driving to a counseling session when they find themselves lost on a deserted road in Alabama. Fortunately, they are near an old Victorian house which is occupied by a family of three and being used as an inn. They check in and have dinner with the family, and some other guests, Randy (J.P. Davis) and Leslie (Julie Ann Emery).
After dinner the pace begins to pick up when tensions run high as the son of the family, Pete, ogles Leslie and states to his father that he wants her. This makes Randy’s temper flare and puts everyone on edge. The real craziness begins when they are locked into the house by a psychotic killer nicknamed The Tin Man. After they are sure that there is no chance of escape Tin Man gives them a tin can with the three rules to his game written on it: “#1 God came into my house and I killed him. #2 I will kill anyone who comes to my house like I killed God. #3 Bring me one dead body and I might let rule #2 slide. You have until dawn.” After reading these rules chaos ensues when the house comes alive and everyone tries to decide who is to be killed.
Overall I think that House never reaches the bar that it set, sometimes it comes close, but on the whole fell short. The acting, as in most Christian films, is extremely suspect. At times Reynaldo Rosales seems like he wants to shine but is too timid to be great. But what hurt House more than anything was its shortcomings as a horror film. Instead of building up suspense to a climax and then letting the viewer rest for a time before building the suspense back up to another climax, House was moving 100 M.P.H. from the end of the dinner scene till the credits rolled. It was exhausting to have to sit through an hour and a half of non-stop suspense.
But like I said earlier, as a Christian film, I believe that House made huge strides. It didn’t shove Christian propaganda down your throat till you were sick, like other Christian cinema, such as Left Behind and more recently Fireproof. Instead it allowed its positive message to shine through in subtle ways. House showed us the positivity of Christ without telling us all about. It is a film that could be watched by believers and non-believers and both would come away with some nugget of truth. House definitely takes many steps in the right direction for the Christian film industry and pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable Christian filmmaking. I am very excited for what may be to come in next few years as far as Christian films go. And if everything goes as I hope it does, then look out Kirk Cameron, you might not have a career.