When Nick Di Santo (Luke Kleintank) learns that his father is not only alive but can possibly reveal the origin of his son's dark gift, he sets out on a trip that takes him to an abandoned mansion he thought only existed in his childhood imagination.
I've pretty much all but forgotten 'Dark House,' the latest horror flick from writer and director Victor Salva, who did respectable work with 'Powder' and 'Jeepers Creepers' but has lately been bungling one movie after another. Forgetting a movie so soon after watching it is very telling of its overall quality and effectiveness, one that definitely doesn't inspire a need to revisit it. The only thing I can recall is the image of axe-wielding men with long hair dressed in old dirty dusters, the loose-fitting long coats cowboys use to wear to protect their clothes from trail dust. They were rather creepy with hair covering most of their faces, standing still in hallways, behind bushes and especially when they ran sideways like Quasimodo.
Then, the rest of the movie just comes and goes in small flashes which remind that a young cast of actors were hunted by those menacing maniacs. I don't remember the characters behaving stupidly or making terribly dumb decisions, but they also weren't particularly smart either. The reason any of them find themselves in this situation, surrounded by freaks in dusters, is all due to Nick Di Santo (Luke Kleintank), whose institutionalized mother (Lesley-Anne Down) left him a mysterious house after her death. When going to investigate on the property, his pregnant girlfriend Eve (Alex McKenna) and his best friend Ryan (Anthony Rey Perez) tag along, and the trio learn of an urban legend about the house.
The story has something to do with a massive flood that washed the town clean of its sinful ways and apparently carried the house of Nick's dreams down the river. Now, reality would suggest the house to be more than likely completely demolished or lost forever, but this being fiction and a horror movie, the house is found mostly intact. Even the foundation is in great condition and the front yard is very well-kept. No one would guess the property survived a disaster, aside from a large tree that has partially grown into the parlor room. Perhaps, the house's upkeep has much to do with a scary stranger we assume is a squawker (Tobin Bell of 'Saw' fame) who menacingly lays claim to the property and who turns out to be the leader of the axe-throwing head-bangers running to a Slayer concert.
Oops! I overlooked an important fact concerning the overall plot: another trio of characters who help Nick track down the house. See how easily forgettable this movie is. Anyhow, Zack Ward plays Chris McCulluch, supervisor to land surveyors Lilith (Lacey Anzelc) and Sam (Ethan S. Smith). As friendly and polite as they seem, the three are initially introduced with some suspicion, especially after Bell's character recognizes the redheaded Sam and calls him by a different name. Then there's also the minor detail that the glove-wearing Nick has the ability to foretell someone's death by simply touching the person. This is a fact that apparently is used only when convenient to the narrative or when Nick mistakenly grabs onto a tree.
In the end, forgetting or remembering any of these small details makes little to no difference in the enjoyment of Victor Salva's 'Dark House' because frankly, it's a boring and joyless watch to begin with, lacking in horror and suspense. Nick's psychic gift is rarely used for anything meaningful and adds nothing to the script, which was co-written by Salva with Charles Agron. The land surveyors supply an almost amusing and somewhat intriguing twist going into the third act, but it still fails to make the movie the least bit worthwhile. Only other part I remember is when the group plays a game of Red light/Green light with the duster-wearing maniacs, more because it's absurdly comical than it is scary.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
New Video Group and Cinedigm bring 'Dark House' to Blu-ray on a Region Free, BD25 disc inside a regular blue keepcase. After a few skippable trailers, viewers are taken a menu screen with full-motion clips and music playing in the background.
Darkness falls on Blu-ray with an excellent, highly-detailed 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. Leaves are distinct, individual blades of grass are razor-sharp and tree bark is clear-cut. Fine lines in the clothing and around the architecture of the old house are plainly visible while facial complexions appear natural with good lifelike textures. There are a couple scenes where resolution takes a small dip and the 2.35:1 image looks a bit softer. Primaries are richly-saturated and vibrant, and secondary hues add warmth and energy. Contrast is well-balanced and comfortably bright with crisp, brilliant whites. Black levels are accurate with admirable gradational detailing and deep, penetrating shadows, providing the high-def transfer with some appreciable dimensionality.
Joining the video is an equally satisfying DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that nicely adds to the story's spookiness but doesn't actually improve it. Rear activity is continuously employed for a variety of well-placed atmospherics that are discrete. With good directionality and amusing panning, they do a great job in expanding the soundfield, but they, at times, also seem a few decibels too loud and near distracting. Nevertheless, vocals are well-prioritized and audible in the center while the rest of the soundstage displays outstanding channel separation, and the mid-range is detailed with great clarity in the upper frequencies. The low-end is surprisingly punchy and impactful, providing several action sequences and the music some palpable weight.
From writer and director Victor Salva, who hasn't done anything of general interest since 'Powder' and 'Jeepers Creepers,' 'Dark House' is a forgettable direct-to-video production that touches on a couple mildly interesting ideas but fails to make any good use of them. The Blu-ray arrives with a strong and generally pleasing audio and video presentation but fumbles in the bonus section. Followers of Salva are likely the most curious, but the overall package is a rental at best.