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First Look Review - THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES (DVD)

A snuff filmmaking couple attempt to create their masterpiece.

Review by James McAllister

Directed by: Jay Lee, Jim Roof

Starring: Jim Roof, Shannon Malone, Larissa Lynch, Liz Burghdorf, Andrew Hopper




"Within its dark and disturbing milieu, the script’s many misjudged moments of black humor sit awkwardly and leave the audience feeling frustrated for all the wrong reasons."


So, here’s a question for you: if John McNaughton’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer were ever to get married and have a baby with Rob Reiner’s This Is Spinal Tap, what would the resulting offspring look like? Answer: a lot like Jay Lee and Jim Roof’s erroneous exploitation flick, The House With 100 Eyes.
Told through the now infuriatingly flat found-footage format, this grotesque-gorefest-cum-macabre-mockumentary follows Ed (Roof) and Susan (Shannon Malone), a married couple who, on the surface at least, appear to be nice and normal. But in reality they're a pair of filmmakers who specialise in snuff movies. Having rigged their entire house with cameras, the twisted twosome set about searching for people to star in their first-ever triple victim feature. However, soon after they return home with their unknowing prey, Ed and Susan’s plan begins to unravel.
In many ways, it’s easy to admire directors Lee and Roof (the latter of whom also wrote the script). Here is a pair of filmmakers clearly trying to climb new creative heights of bad taste cinema, much like Lee did back in 2008 with his juvenile Jenna Jameson vehicle Zombie Strippers. Similarly to that film, The House With 100 Eyes isn’t without the odd soaring moment, but ultimately it falls flat on its arse.
Much of its success is down to Roof’s performance. His attempts to appear strikingly sinister do sometimes stray too close to the hilariously hammy Vince Vaughn incarnation of Norman Bates. But his sporadic voiceover succeeds in channeling the skin-crawling sociopathic menace of Michael Rooker in McNaughton’s aforementioned killer-thriller.
Throughout, Roof manages to instill the atmosphere with a convincingly creepy air, but the film’s fundamental flaws undo much of his hard work. Aesthetically it’s a complete mess. The incessant use of glitchy graphics and screeching sound effects to reinforce the fact that we’re watching everything through a battery-operated camera is only likely to have an impact on those who suffer from tinnitus. While the obviously restricting budget means that the sick and twisted scenes of gore, each of which seem dementedly determined to provoke by pushing the visual boundaries of onscreen violence, are only painful to observe because they look so cheap.
The underlying problem that plagues The House With 100 Eyes though, is its curiously comedic tone. Within this dark and disturbing milieu, the script’s many misjudged moments of black humor sit awkwardly. And, like so many other elements of the film, it leaves the audience feeling frustrated for all the wrong reasons.




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