REVIEW: House of Darkness (2022)

dir. Neil LaBute

After driving a woman (Kate Bosworth) back to her secluded countryside mansion in the hopes of getting lucky, Hap (Justin Long) soon realises his night is about to turn sour when the mysterious (and cleverly named) Mina soon becomes more than just the manic pixie dream girl he initially expected. As he finds himself in an increasingly uncomfortable situation, Hap must decide whether it would be wiser to follow his head… or his pants, despite the detriment to his survival. 

Directed by Neil LaBute (In The Company of Men; Your Friends & Neighbours) House of Darkness is a beautifully gothic chamber piece, richly interwoven with the DNA of literary classics and the Hammer Horror movies of the 1960s and 70s. Long is slimeball, dude-bro perfection, initially thinking he is in control until he finds himself – Jonathan Harker-style – in the clutches of the three brides of Dracula. Thankfully Hap is not entirely unbearable thanks to Long’s performance, cleverly disguising his misogyny beneath a guise of awkward shyness, at least initially. 

With expertly created mise-en-scène DP Daniel Katz shoots the shadows to symbolise the darker traits of humans, whilst the set is gorgeously dressed with candelabras, draped fabrics and ornate furnishings reminiscent of theatre productions. Despite the film being dialogue heavy, this setting and the witty script keep both the tension and rhythm of delivery at an exciting pace, gripping even the most attention challenged viewer. 

A provocative exploration of hidden intentions – set against gloriously gothic trappings – House of Darkness is a worthy addition to the current trend of socially awkward, polite horror.

© Ygraine Hackett-Cantabrana


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