Some may find House of Dust too bland to really get into.
A.D. Calvo’s House of Dust was a somewhat pedestrian affair, with occasional nice touches that eventually get lost in the sea of blandness. The “inspired by a true story” title made me instantly wary, which was a shame after the goodwill the film had established by not being another low-budget found-footage creation. This is admittedly the first film I’ve seen from the director but I certainly won’t be put off watching anything else he puts out, as there was enough decent direction on display, demonstrating Calvo is capable of so much more. One feels a lot has to do with the poor script, which was “inspired by the discovery in the Oregon State Hospital of the unclaimed ashes of thousands of deceased patients,” and with a little more tweaking of some main character dialogue and a stronger ending–other than the weak one we were given–it would have made this a vastly superior movie.
During the 50’s an asylum doctor was carrying out a deplorable experiment on criminally insane patients, and involved injecting them through the eye into the brain then drilling through the skull. This unorthodox lobotomy was killing them, whose bodies were then quickly cremated within the hospital. The doctor who was carrying out the procedures is killed by a patient about to be drilled, with the asylum shutting down shortly after. The remains of the last three loons and the crazy doctor treating them–and had also been cremated–were kept in containers for 50-years in the now closed hospital, but after accidently spilling and inhaling the cremation dust, a small group of collage kids are taken over by the spirits of the dead.
The performances by an able cast of young actors greatly helped this film, for without those, simply showing the lovely Inbar Lavi in a selection of tight tops, panties and skimpy shorts wouldn’t have been enough before boredom set in. Well, not for everyone. Using tactics like that cheapens a film and pushes it closer to exploitation filmmaking instead of concentrating on the horror aspect, which after all is the reason to watch House of Dust in the first place.
Inbar Lavi’s Emma is just starting college, and her worried mother phones her often. Emma was in a mental institution and is now on medication to help with her delusions, but once her new college buddies begin to show symptoms of their being taken over, Emma understandably doesn’t know if she’s just imagining things. We don’t learn anything about anyone else, with Emma being the only character with more than a single dimension. Out of the remaining three cast members, Steven Grayhm looked to have had the most fun with his character, Kolt, as he begins to be taken over.
Having an asylum on the grounds near college dormitories doesn’t seem all that believable, particularly one that’s so easy to break into, even though they have the stereotypical overweight security guy driving around in his golf-cart protecting the place. I’m actually surprised they didn’t have him as a serial-killer, just to stick to the formula that was long ago established for films of this nature. It also appeared as if no one else had ever snuck inside and wrecked the place, which is pretty much what happens to old buildings on any sort of school ground.
If you enjoy horror and don’t mind a scrappy story, House of Dust certainly provides entertainment, but I found the ending somewhat sudden and deflating. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what I got appeared to be an afterthought, and a way to ensure “part two” was always a possibility.
Review by Nav Qateel
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