UNHINGED ** U.K. 2017 Dir: Dan Allen. 93 mins
Don Gronquist’s UNHINGED (1982) was an odd, mean-spirited hybrid of PSYCHO / TEXAS CHAINSAW-derived slasher movie and old-dark-house horror, notable for Virginia Settle’s portrait of a misanthropic matriarch. It was never well-liked, though this “remake” is no more indebted to UNHINGED than it is to scores of other modern American horror films with the same plot.
Its working title was THE ATTIC, so the retitling seems a marketing ploy to cash-in on the earlier film’s undeserved “video nasty” notoriety. Although set and shot in the Essex countryside, it cynically bids for the international market with four vapid American girls (at least two played by non-Americans with wavering accents) taking refuge at the foreboding house of unfailingly polite oddball Miss Perkins (Michelle Archer). She has a strict set of “rules” and a sinister backstory, while a masked maniac on the premises assaults the stranded ladies. Archer, who looks and talks like she should be playing an eccentric mum in a 1980’s CITV comedy series, seems to be enjoying herself, but the girls are unlikeable and the dialogue doesn’t help (“This isn’t fucking Dexter!”). There’s a sense of desperation about the way the movie throws in a pointless scene of Lorena Andrea manacled to a wall and tortured (like every other post-HOSTEL horror movie of the early 2000’s), and almost everything else is misjudged, from the coy lesbian love scene to the terrible song at the end. Kudos, however, for giving the demon voice from THE AMITYVILLE HORROR gainful employment (“Get out!”) and for managing to find four actresses even more unappealing than the 1982 UNHINGED’s doomed trio.