Hey, everybody! It’s time for your regular two for one special! Today, you’ll be getting two reviews on House on Elm Lake for the price of one. It’s a super good deal, trust me I checked. Enjoy!
The House on Elm Lake: A Review
by Luce Allan
An emotionally-vulnerable family falls prey to a demonic force in the sleek yet unrelentingly brutal film The House on Elm Lake (2017). When Hayley (Becca Hirani) moves into a beautiful lake house with her boyfriend, Eric (Andrew Hollingsworth) and their daughter, Penny (Faye Goodwin), she ignores the property’s vicious history of murder in an effort to revive her relationship with Eric after his infidelity threatens their bond. As Eric slowly becomes possessed by a malevolent supernatural entity, Hayley’s exploration into the house’s past as a hotbed of cultic activity transforms into a desperate attempt to save the lives of her loved ones.
The House on Elm Lake thrives on its steady and engaging pace; its spot-on balance between explicit and implied gore; and its atmosphere, which is saturated in darkness and tension. There are several moments of imaginative and compelling imagery throughout the film (which are withheld from this review due to their importance to the film’s plot), which are strengthened by Hirani and Hollingsworth’s convincing portrayals of their characters. Hirani’s character particularly shines due to her emotional complexity and authenticity, both of which grow more poignant during the film’s climax and ending. The dynamics of the central family within the film are a point of interest due to its departure from the typical familial structure in similar movies, which often consists of a married couple and their children; Hayley and Eric’s relationship is more textured due to their raw, modern interpretation of a family, which blends the passion of youth and romance with the commitment to and love for a child.
The only debatable flaw in The House on Elm Lake is its general reliance on the tropes of the demonic cult subgenre of horror, as the plot rarely strays from familiar ground in terms of similar films. While the film is entertaining, well-produced, and infused with the talents of the cast and crew, the relatively generic storyline occasionally draws the viewer out of the film.
Overall, The House on Elm Lake is a strong addition to the horror genre, in spite of its dependence on conventional themes.
The House on Elm Lake
The House on Elm Lake tells the story of a young Australian couple and their daughter who move into a lake house with a dark past. Pretty soon, strange things start happening and they learn just how dark the history of that house is. Apparently the previous tenants were up to some pretty weird shit. Not like latex suits and car batteries weird, though; more like summoning the Dark Lord Lucifer with human sacrifices weird. Since the house was the site of a ritual years ago it has become a portal through which Hell itself can reach and touch the living. So it does, sometimes inappropriately.
The movie has a slow start and then beats you over the head with horror tropes for awhile but they’re well done enough to be enjoyable. You could sum up a bunch of the beginning of the movie just by pointing out tropes. See, watch. A family with a youngish child move into a nice house that is super cheap because some murders happened there. The kid can see the ghosts that the parents can’t. She befriends one of the ghosts, who warns her that the other ghosts are mean. Some weird shit happens and the wife reveals her worries to her promiscuous friend who then decides that she should bring over a Ouija board. That happens right before the husband gets more possessed and the wife goes to a medium who says that there are unspeakably evil powers in the home. Bam. All are pretty familiar concepts and most of the time with that many tropes piled into the first portion of the movie it would get tiresome and hard to watch but House on Elm Lake manages to make these well worn things seem fresh. After all of that there are a few nods to classic horror films. The only one who can see the ghosts or help the family is the daughter. The daughter who has a history of making up imaginary friends. Why can she help? Because she has something called “the light”. Uh huh. Yeah. There’s another pretty great nod but it would totally give up the ending.
The House on Elm Lake really shines when it puts all of those things together with a dose of originality to make an enjoyable story. For instance, I loved the fact that the medium didn’t talk about séances and exorcisms. She was like, “Yeah, nah,yeah, he’s possessed as fuck. Have you thought about maybe killin’ that bloke? You probably need to kill him otherwise he’s gonna take your whole family to Destination Fucked.” I’m obviously paraphrasing and my Australian is a bit rusty, but you get the point. Also, home boy gets possessed by the rapeyist (most rapey?) version of Lucifer ever. It was like Lucifer wanted to take over a body just so he could commit sex crimes. There aren’t any extra brutal rape scenes or anything but ol’ Lucifer should definitely be on a list somewhere, if you catch my drift. Finally, the twist at the end is just tops. It’s kind of an obvious twist but like so much else in this movie it’s just done so damned well.
I love movies about hauntings and possessions so I tend to be picky about movies like this and this one ticked all the boxes for me. If you’re in the mood for a quick fix, give The House on Elm Lake a visit, you’ll enjoy your stay.
You can check out the trailer here.