DIRECTORS: Austin & Aaron Keeling
SCREENPLAY: Natalie Jones, Austin & Aaron Keeling
STARRING: Emily Goss, Taylor Bottles, Cathy Barnett, Jim Korinke
RUNNING TIME: 108mins
Reviewed by Guy Adams.
One day, when I inevitably get round to writing a haunted house movie (shush… let me dream, it’s all we writers have) it will centre around a husband who sees ghosts. He hears things in the night, glimpses strange, flickering motions in the shadows. When he finally admits this to his wife she will narrow her eyes, call him an absolute idiot and proceed to be utterly, utterly hateful and patronising to him for the rest of the movie. Why? Because it would make a refreshing change that’s why.
I know writers of the supernatural have to pay lip service to scepticism, but I do wish the job didn’t always fall to the husband, tutting and sighing at the overwrought imaginings of their flighty, emotional spouse. Husbands in haunted house pictures are such arseholes. That’s certainly the case here (though with suitable psychological backstory, I admit, so at least we don’t immediately want to punch the wonderfully-named Taylor Bottles the minute he starts disbelieving his wife).
Partially funded via Kickstarter, all concerned in making The House on Pine Street are certainly to be commended for delivering such a polished, presentable film. It’s perfectly lovely, well-acted, well shot, suspenseful and accomplished. So much so it feels churlish to note that long-time fans of the genre will find themselves on familiar territory for the vast majority of it. The movie diverges in one, rather lovely, aspect from the conventional spooky home narrative and it’s a potent, solid idea. Sadly, while that idea is fresh, the business of strange noises, shifting furniture and shadowy figures isn’t.
Perhaps the problem is mine, as someone who has seen so many movies of this type that I can sing-along too readily. Recently we’ve been so spoiled with innovative horror cinema (The Babadook, It Follows, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip) that, while I can’t criticise The House on Pine Street, I find I can’t get truly excited by it either. Given its great success at festivals I’m honestly glad that the hard work of all concerned has paid off on a far less jaded audience than this old horror lag. Good for them.