I’ll be the first to admit that I am a major horror fan. I’d like to think that I’ve seen it all—the good, the bad, and the downright weird. Dead House is a rather disturbing horror film that, at least in the first 10 minutes, really tested my horror stamina. Originally released in the Philippines in 2015 as Beautiful People, the film came to video-on-demand for American audiences in June 2018.
The plot was quite a bit different from I expected. I mean, I knew that zombies were coming—I just didn’t expect this particular method to the director’s madness. You see, Dead House combines two common horror tropes—psychotic killers and zombies. Now, you could say that this is nothing new because it might call to mind other zombie flicks like the French film Horde but this was…different.
In short, three murderous thugs break into a scientist’s home with the intent to rob, torture and kill his family, videotaping the entire thing to sell later. Little do they know that the good Doctor Pontecorvo likes to keep his work close to home. When one of the villains force him to reveal his lab, they unwittingly release a zombie plague.
You might be wondering why I said that I found this video to be more disturbing than anything else I’ve watched. The reason is that in the first 10 minutes or so, I quickly realized our killers were ultimately making a snuff film off which they intended to profit. As they explained later in the film, they only chose rich people because they felt they (the criminals) were something of a balancing force of nature and that the wealthy deserved their fate simply for being wealthy.
While that argument could spark a whole different debate altogether, I was a little off-put by the idea of a snuff film. First, I just find the concept of a killer with a modus operandi of this nature somewhat unimaginative. Second, it’s a snuff film and that’s pretty much all the reason I need.
I have to say that the acting wasn’t what I’d call top-notch but it was pretty damn good for a film with a relatively low-budget. Danny Cutler and Alex Lucchesi really did a bang-up job as Nibbio and Testamento (respectively). I found myself absolutely hating these guys, simply because they were so damn smug about what they were doing and why. Brett, the third criminal element played by Alex Southern, gave a good performance as Nibbio’s reluctant brother.
The actors playing the Pontecorvo family also did a decent job, although I did question a few of their decisions at times. I know that’s something to be expected in a horror film but when you’re running from zombies and a man intent on killing you, is that really the best time to discuss your mother’s marital infidelity?
Dead House’s soundtrack was alright but nothing phenomenal. The score was appropriate, consisting mostly of orchestral music that rose and fell with the action. The song playing over the end credits was a little more brutal, graphically describing what I took to be the intent of the would-be-killers more than the zombie creatures.
The cinematography in Dead House was great. Everything from the camera angles to the lighting was well-executed with the intent to heighten the audience’s discomfort. The only weird thing was the zombie makeup. I mean, it was definitely interesting. Most were just your usual zombies but it was the thing that the doctor turned into that was a bit strange. It actually reminded me of the creatures in one of the mid-series Resident Evil films.
Clocking in at about an hour and fifteen minutes, Dead House is at the very least entertaining. True, it’s not going to set well with every audience simply because of over-the-top violence in many scenes. Still, if you can make it past the initial shock of those parts, it’s not a bad film at all.