House – Film Review

Director: Steve Miner

Writer: Ethan Wiley

Starring: William Katt, George Wendt, Richard Moll, and Kay Lenz

Rating: ★★½

House is a horror comedy film from 1986 that was directed by Steve Miner (who had previously directed Friday the 13th Part 2 and 3), with a script by Ethan Wiley. Despite a mixed critical reception, the film was a success at the box office and spawned three sequels, and an upcoming reboot. Essentially, it’s a standard haunted house story, and while it’s nothing exceptional it’s enjoyable to watch.

William Katt stars as Roger Cobb, a renowned horror author, who moves into his late aunt’s house to work on his new book about his experiences in the Vietnam war. His aunt always believed the house was haunted, and while Roger had always dismissed that once he’s in the house he starts to experience strange events too. George Wendt, who’s most well known as Norm from Cheers, plays Roger’s new neighbour Harold, who is quite a similar character to Norm. He’s a fan of Roger’s books and tries to become his friend, while Roger is looking for solitude.

Roger is a troubled character who has a lot going on in his life. He’s suffering from PTSD due to his time in Vietnam, while also going through the breakdown of his marriage after the disappearance of his son. He also moves into his aunt’s house, after she commits suicide. For the most part he seems pretty well adjusted for someone who has been through so much. The comedy side of the film stops it from dwelling too much on how messed up his life is and he doesn’t seem quite as torn up by everything as you’d expect. The film strays away from being a dark full-on horror film and tries to keep it light-hearted and funny. For every scene showing a flashback to Vietnam, there’s a funny one like Roger being chased around the house by floating garden equipment.

There’s a lot of similarities to other films within House. Most notably Poltergeist, which had been released four years prior. The main character in both films have their child taken to another world and travels into that world through the closest upstairs to save them. There’s also been a few films since that deal with similar ideas and have probably been influenced by House. The effects are decent, especially with Ben (Richard Moll), who appears as a decomposing corpse to haunt Roger in the later part of the story.

Most frustratingly is this could have been so much better. The idea of someone suffering from PTSD and ending up in a haunted house not knowing what’s real and what in his mind is interesting, and while this is explored in the film, it could have been so much better. Roger has flashbacks to the Vietnam war, but they’re not very well done and come across as too goofy to really drive home the horror of it all. It doesn’t take itself seriously enough to be a really grounded horror film about mental illness and at the same time isn’t silly or funny enough to be an all-out comedy. It’s left somewhere in the middle and suffers because of it.

House is an okay comedy horror that’s aged pretty well. The effects are decent and the performances are a lot better than you’d expect from an 80s horror film. Sadly, it’s not very scary, and it’s also not that funny, but it still that 1980s horror charm. Having just watched the first one, it’s surprising that this got three sequels. This is also probably one of those rate films that could probably be improved with a remake/reboot, which is reportedly happening in 2024.

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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3 Responses to House – Film Review

  1. mongo1970 says:

    You should watch House 3 Ashley I don’t know why but I love it I’ve got it if you want to borrow it

    Liked by 1 person

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