Movies like The Scarehouse are why it’s simultaneously wonderful and awful to write film reviews. On the positive side, it gives me a chance to passive aggressively take out my frustrations on a terrible movie (sad, but true). On the negative side, I have to actually watch said movie. Just to get it out of the way: The Scarehouse is not a good movie. Now let me tell you why. ***WARNING: There are some mild spoilers to some of the films setpieces in the following review, but explicit details of the second half of the film will not be revealed.***
The Scarehouse centers around Corey (Sarah Booth) and Elaina (Kimberly-Sue Murray), two ex-sorority pledges who have just been released from a 2-year stint in prison. They are plotting revenge on the six sorority girls who might have had something to do with their sentencing. Their plan is to put on a haunted house (which is where the film gets its title) as they begin to stalk the girls one at a time and kill them in increasingly gruesome ways. Interspersed among all of this are found-footage flashbacks to the night Corey and Elaina were arrested. Needless to say, the found footage style of filming these flashbacks is completely unnecessary.
The script, written by director Gavin Michael Booth, has many problems. There is a lot that doesn’t make sense in The Scarehouse. For one, Elaina says she built the house from scratch (or something like that). I would love to know how this girl who was just released from prison somehow managed to get a warehouse and put together a well-decorated haunted house. Two girls are “forced” into a pillow fight to the death (the pillows are filled with powdered acid), but there is nothing really forcing them to do it. They just do it for the sake of viewers being able to talk about a cool pillow fight with a Saw-like twist. Seemingly important things are brought up once and never mentioned again. There was a pink dildo dipped in some kind of chemical that was a prime example of Chekhov’s Gun if I ever saw one, and it’s never seen again after its introduction (trust me, I never thought I would be writing that sentence in my life).
The film’s biggest issue is that it thinks it’s hip, cool and funny; but it is none of those things. From describing the color of a scarf as “labia pink” to referencing the aforementioned powdered acid as “some Walter White shit,” almost nothing in the film feels authentic. The film already feels dated and it just came out. The non-pop culture references are equally hard to listen to. The actresses have to convincingly say lines like “I can feel the satisfaction pumping through my veins.” It’s all rather silly, and not in a good way.
The performances don’t help either. A film with a poorly-written script can sometimes turn out somewhat decent if you have good actors to speak the lines. The Scarehouse is littered with poor performances, starting with Sarah Booth’s Corey. As the mastermind behind the revenge plot, Corey spouts off a lot of very, very unfunny one-liners. Everything that comes out of her mouth feels forced and awkward. This may be the fault of the script, as opposed to Booth’s, but it’s still painful to watch. The other actresses fare slightly better, but none of them stand out whatsoever.
The film does have a few moments of inspiration, including a commentary on how no one uses cell phones to call anyone anymore (we only text nowadays) and a pretty brutal death by corset. Also, the ending does have a twist that I found somewhat surprising, so I will give it that. Overall, though, the film is hit and miss with far too many misses. One positive thing that came from me watching The Scarehouse is that I now have a movie to refer people to when they say that Sorority Row isn’t a good movie and tries too hard to be witty, or that Jennifer’s Body’s dialogue feels forced and awkward. I dare anyone to say that about those two movies after watching The Scarehouse.
The Scarehouse is currently available to watch on Amazon Instant and select VOD services.