Thursday, June 5, 2014

House in the Alley DVD Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
There’s a new address in sheer terror. Scream Factory invites loyal fans and horror enthusiasts to experience terror more profoundly with supernatural shocker House in the Alley on DVD. Boasting a large cult following overseas and a film festivals favorite, House in the Alley is a gripping haunted house thriller that exposes the weaknesses of the human psyche and deftly combines suspense, horror and emotional dramas. A young couple, settling into their new life in their spectacular home, lose their newborn to a miscarriage. After the tragedy, Thao is inconsolable and won’t let her baby’s body leave the house. She soon begins suffering from terrifying visions and she slowly begins to lose her sanity. Her husband, Thanh, soon begins experiencing strange things around their home and which his wife turns on him, he must race to uncover the secrets of the house in the alley before they both lose their sanity… and their lives.

Film (2 out of 5 stars)
On a rainy night, a midwife is summoned to a house where she finds blood everywhere. As she ascends the stairs, she hears screaming and when she enters the bedroom, she finds a young pregnant woman, Thao, on the bed bleeding. Her husband, Thanh, tells the woman to save his wife, and calls the doctor. The woman tries, but is unable to save the baby, who has died in the womb. 

Thao, is understandably devastated and stays in bed recovering. Their families have held a funeral for the child, but Thao refuses to let the baby’s coffin leave the bedroom. Shortly after, strange things begin happening around the house and affecting the young couple. Thanh tries to move on from the devastating miscarriage and returns to work at his family’s factory, where the workers are striking. His mother, who is in charge, insists that the problems with the business started when he married Thao and blames her for many things. 

At home, Thao tries to adjust to life without her baby and move forward, but can’t seem to find peace. She begins hearing children’s laughter and footsteps all around her, but when she asks others if they’ve heard it, no one else has. As time goes on, the noises and sounds affect Thao and she begins displaying odd and concerning behavior. Thanh tries his best to deal with the situation, but when he too hears the noises and sees strange things, he begins to wonder if the cause is the dead baby in his bedroom or if his wife has completely lost her mind.

It took me three tries to get through House in the Alley. I started watching it one evening and fell asleep, so I tried again… and then again. Finally, I was able to get through it. It just couldn’t hold my interest. The story moved along too slowly, it wasn’t very suspenseful and it certainly wasn’t scary. The actors were just okay, and the dialogue seemed forced. It sounded like the actors were reading off cue cards, rather than knowing their lines… they just didn’t come across as natural.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
The anamorphic widescreen 1.78:1 presentation of House in the Alley was the best part of the film. The picture was clear, everything was easily seen. Even the rain fall was crisp and you could see the rain drops as they fell. Skin tones were natural and night scenes were bright and not too dark.
Audio (2 out of 5 stars)
House in the Alley is a Vietnamese film in Dolby Digital Stereo with English subtitles. I wish it has been dubbed in English because I found the subtitles distracting, especially with all the grammatical errors. I know that’s being picky, but when it detracts that much from a film, it turns into an issue for me. Sounds like the heels of shoes, shuffling across the floor and other background noises were really loud and made everything seem unbelievable.
Extras (0 out of 5 stars)
There are no special features on the DVD.
Summary (2 out of 5 stars)
Considering the fact that I fell asleep twice while watching it, House in the Alley is a boring, not scary movie that didn't hold my attention. It’s not creepy or suspenseful and I found myself bored form the very beginning. It’s hard to not compare it to a horror movie that I would normally watch, but I can’t help but think it is was done by one of the truly good horror masters, the film would have been terrifying. The story had a lot of potential. This is a film that will be put in the DVD drawer and forgotten about.

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