Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Haunting of Whaley House (2012)

The Haunting of Whaley House sets itself up with three different but unlikeable characters. The leader is a skinny, mean spirited white guy and his two friends are a fat guy and a black guy. The stand in front of a house that is supposed to haunted. The leader wants to go inside, the others aren't so excited about it. They have a two second argument about who's better- Argento or Fulci. Which is an age old argument, but why are they discussing it here? Then all of a sudden a figure of a woman holding a candle appears in a window. Startled, the leader walks backward a couple steps only to get run over by a car. "Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint-SaĆ«ns begins t play as the opening credits roll. Which is a nice choice. It's a classical piece that embodies the creepiness of old houses and ghost stories. 

We then get the background on the history of the house via a tour that is doing a walk through. It's typical and not worth mentioning here. We see things going on in the background that the characters do not. One of the women on the tour begins to see things, which escalates into her going into convulsions and needing to be taken to the hospital in a ambulance. What happens next is where the movies lost me- a conversation between the new tour guide and the tour guide who's been working at the house for thirty years. The young woman admits that she doesn't believe in ghosts but is working as a tour guide to put herself through medical school. Really? Medical school? The older woman talks about how the ghosts have to be respected and one should never go in the house at night, because that is their time. 

This, of course, sets up a conversation with a group of kids (who are drinking in a cemetery during the day. Again, really?) They discuss  plans to go inside the house to explore after dark. One of them brings along a famous T.V. psychic who regularly does ghost hunting shows. He inadvertently reveals himself to be a fake almost immediately. The rest of the group is made up of two dimensional and stereotypical characters. A few of them crack jokes that the rest of the cast thinks is hilarious, but to me a lot of it was racist, sexist and homophobic. This is obviously nothing new for teens in horror movies, but it's still unfortunate. 

People walk through the dark, People die in gruesome ways. Eventually the police show up only to tormented by the real Whaley family. And then one of the group of kids becomes possessed. This movie is based on a real house in San Diego that is thought to be haunted. It has been explored on all of the cable ghost hunting shows. I'm guessing all with the same results. Let's face it, there has never been anything on those shows that proves anything. And every episode I've seen is interchangeable. It's a sometimes entertaining hoax, but a hoax nonetheless.

Toward the end, it starts to get a little scary. The members of the Whaley family look like ghosts from Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. They move slowly in and out of shadows and have dark circles around their eyes with creepy grins on their faces. But overall there is nothing new here. All the haunted house cliches are present. Even though the production values are better than most independent horror films, its story is just as weak as any paint by the numbers Hollywood production. Avoid this one. 

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