Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Last House on Cemetery Lane Movie Review – Crazy, Crazy Writers

Runtime: 82 minutes
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Rating: NR
Director: Andrew Jones

Despite being only 82 minutes long, The Last House on Cemetery Lane felt much, much, much longer to me.

John Davies is a successful screenwriter living in London who grows tired of the hustle and bustle of the city. Remembering the fun times he had in the English countryside as a child, he decides to take a break and move back. He finds the perfect home for rent through a local real estate agent. It overlooks the water, has a large property surrounding it, and comes with two full floors. During their meeting though, he learns that there is actually a tenant on the second floor. As she's blind and never leaves, he doesn't need to worry about her. Though he isn't fond of sharing “his home” with someone else, he agrees to rent it.

On one of his first days, he looks outside and sees a beautiful woman playing on the swingset nearby. After chatting with her, he learns that her name is Cassie and that she lives in the neighborhood. Cassie seems a little nervous about being around the house and reluctantly admits that she heard stories about it before. Though interested in the tales, he's even more interested in her.

The longer that John stays in the house, the more unsettled he feels. It starts out slowly. He thinks he feels someone watching him, he finds things missing, he realizes that things moved to new locations, and he hears noises inside the wall. Like most of us, he blames some of it on the upstairs neighbor. She refuses to answer the door or even talk to him, but the real estate agent assures him that Agnes is harmless. Once John starts researching the house and learning about what happened there over the years, he realizes that there might be an underlying reason for all his weird experiences.

Not to be a downer, but this movie really sucked. It was one of those that made me keep grabbing the remote and checking to see how much time was left and feeling disappointed that I had so much time left to go. It's hard to explain, but it felt more like a movie that told us a story instead of one that showed us a story. It was like: here's John, John writes movies, here's this girl, John likes this girl, here's something strange happening, etc. It felt super disjointed and occasionally seemed like the actors didn't even want to be there, which definitely pulled me out of the story.

As a low budget movie, the special effects were particularly bad. The director should have just skipped the idea of adding special effects and tried to give the film an unsettling feel with things like creaky footsteps in the hallway or dark shadows over his shoulder. It lacked anything really new or even different.

As someone with friends in the industry, I know that you can do a lot with a very limited budget. It seems like the director of this one didn't learn that. I kept waiting for something interesting or entertaining to happen, but it felt more like a play that grudgingly walked us through the story...

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