Saturday, November 22, 2014
The House That Would Not Die (1970)
Ugh, that's a title that just punches you in the face, isn't it! While grammatically correct, The House That Would Not Die is a title that just feels off due to its drawn out nature, and from this point onwards, and going to contract it to a more comfortable form.
Ruth Bennett and her niece Sara have just moved into a new home, left to them in the will of a relation. The house seems fine at first, but soon shows a disturbing side as Sara is possessed at intermittent moments by the spirit of a woman named Ammie. Ruth, and neighbours/new friends Pat, and Stan, don't know what to think at first, with Pat believing Sara is a latent schizophrenic, but they soon realize the ghostly truth. As the possessions get worse and more violent, everyone must find out the truth behind Amie and her obsessive father's spirit before it's too late...
The House That Wouldn't Die is a tense and softly eerie ghost story. I'm tempted to say that it's more of a ghost tale than an outright horror film, but I don't wanna sounds like one of those pretentious dicks who hate all horror films except certain ones, which they do their best to classify as 'thrillers' or other such 'acceptable' genres rather than horror. Still, that's what the film is like. It has no body count, instead relying on its plot, creepy atmosphere, and subtle scares to carry it, and it works fantastically! Anyone who says G/PG rated horror films can't work are dolts!
The story to this movie is a well-written one, following the characters as they realize what's going on, and investigate to find its cause. The characters are likeable, and realistic, thankfully. When there's clearly nasty ghost activity, they believe it for one (thank God!), and want to leave and move away! Also thankfully, the reason they do stay is also a well-crafted one.
The mystery here is very well-handled, with a good dripfeed of information. We don't get too much at once, or too little. The answers are revealed well, and best of all, the ending not only didn't piss me off, but it's also not abrupt! A 74 minute TV movie with a well-paced ending! GASP!
The House That Wouldn't Die is replete with ooky and tense scenes, all of which are directed very well! The scoring is suitably spooky, as well as more softly upbeat come the end.
The acting here is all very good, from Barbara Stanwyck, to Richard Egan, to Michael Anderson Jr., and a debuting Katherine 'Kitty' Wynn (The Exorcist) does fantastically! Especially good is Richard Egan when he's possessed. He's quietly evil, and it works wonders for the film's atmosphere. There's one scene that's not so good though. It's a dream sequence, and the slow motion renders the acting hilarious! And Kitty Wynn's over-the-top gesticulations and facial expressions don't help.
For a TV movie, the direction here is quite good, as mentioned above. There are some scenes that are shot very stylishly! One of my only issue with this movie are a few segues, which are very abrupt and/or disorienting. For example, a character picks up a scroll, the camera zooms-in on the parchment, zooms out and suddenly the characters are reading the scroll in a totally different building!
There's also a dumb scene involving a family bible with a stricken out name. A character manages to rapidly and easily shave the ink off, off of three hundred year old paper no less, leaving no damage to the page, and exposing the hidden name! Bullcrap!
The House That Wouldn't Die is a highly entertaining ghost story, and I can't recommend it enough! It's well worth a watch for horror fans out there!...