HOUSE ON ELM LAKE ** U.K. 2017 Dir: James Klass. 97 mins
Andrew Hollingworth and Becci Hirani start a new life at the remote location of the title, following a relationship-scarring infidelity. In a prologue, we witness a previous owner killing his family, having apparently had his mind and body invaded by Lucifer himself.
Other ominous reasons to leave include portentous warnings from the locals, a journal in the shed that looks like it belongs on a shelf next to the Necronomicon and a naked stranger casually strolling past their bedroom late at night. This histrionic rag bag of haunted house clichés generates some creepy moments in the early going (notably involving the daughter’s “imaginary” friend) but drowns in creaking genre tropes, from the exposition-spouting supporting characters to the ill-advised Ouija board session and a disposable babysitter-in-peril. Hollingworth makes a swift but unconvincing transformation into James Brolin’s character in THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, and the movie also borrows that film’s memorable demon voice (“Get Out!”), following its use in the same production company’s UNHINGED (which features several of the same cast and crew). Blowing its load way too early and overloaded with in-your-face “scares”, it descends into an endless series of two (for the price of one?) possessed naked men growling at the heroine before a final invasion of sentimentality.
Review by Steven West