DECEMBER 10, 2010
I'm actually sort of surprised that House Of Bones seems to be the first (certainly one of the very very few) haunted house movie to tackle the burgeoning "Ghost Hunter" TV show genre in movie form, with the hosts and crew of a cheesy Syfy type show setting up for a new episode only to discover that the place is truly haunted for once. My guess? Filmmakers feared being compared to Halloween: Resurrection.
Sadly, Bones barely explores the concept, as the crew starts disappearing or getting injured before they even begin taping. It would have been funny/cool to see them doing their usual fake gimmicks amidst the actual hauntings (something they had to have been doing, right? If the show was in its 60th episode and this seems to be the first real ghost they've encountered?), but instead their PA disappears while setting up the cameras and then they spend the rest of the movie looking for him, barely taping anything at all let alone trying to build an episode around it. It seems odd to be complaining that a movie lacks "found footage" sequences, considering how many I've seen lately, but there you go.
It's also quite choppy throughout, with "star" Corin Nemec almost never sharing the screen with any of his co-stars, and disappearing for large chunks of time. Granted, he is "late" arriving at the house (a mention of which being the only time his character is mentioned when he's not on-screen) and thus has an excuse, but even when he shows up, he never actually goes inside the house and spends the remainder of his scenes outside, awkwardly conversing with the others through a door/the magic of editing. And while she interacts with the others more often, Charisma Carpenter spends a great deal of her scenes in some other room in the house, with little to no way of knowing how far she is from the others. The house doesn't seem very big, but yet it's like she's completely isolated for the first half of the film.
It also keeps switching gears. It starts off like an episode of Supernatural or X-Files, where we see a scary occurrence and then meet our heroes later, right before or as they first hear about the case, but then it turns to a typical haunted house movie a la The Haunting, albeit one set almost entirely in the daytime. But when folks start dying off, it feels almost like a slasher film, since the deaths are surprisingly gory and involve a variety of "weapons" instead of the usual HH things (unseen forces knocking folks out of windows or whatever). And then it becomes a goddamn J-horror ripoff for a while (complete with long dark hair coming out of someone's throat and even a friggin Ring-like well), before finally settling on The Shining (there's a "caretaker" and the movie ends with a 'surprise' photo on the wall).
But for a Syfy movie, it's pretty watchable and even entertaining at times, and at least it's not another "giant (insert type of marine life)" flick. The random plot keeps it from ever being too predictable, and I like that the asshole producer guy actually becomes the most heroic at one point, insisting on finding the PA while everyone else wants to leave ASAP. I was also surprised that the PA bit it so soon, since he was set up both as the put upon blue collar guy (i.e. a hero) as well as a kind of comic relief (he's a bit dim as well).
There's also a hilarious bit where after being separated for a bit, the three main characters join up and share their scary moments. One guy got his eye clawed out by their little robotic camera thing, and then the asshole producer guy says "Well, I got hypnotized by a realty commercial." Given my well documented love/hate 'relationship' with real estate horror, I found this quite delightful. In fact, throughout the movie there are little lines and reaction shots that give it a bit of a personality you don't often see in these things. I just wish the story itself as as occasionally clever, instead of just going through the motions and ripping of a bunch of other movies at random.
I also wish the composer they hired had actually watched the movie, so that the music would occasionally match the type of scene it was playing over. Simple dialogue scenes are given full blown ominous mood-setting nonsense (it's also mixed poorly, sometimes drowning out the dialogue - though that could be a DVD error), and other scenes of nothing happening have a soundtrack that is trying to make you think otherwise. More than once I thought I was hearing the soundtrack from a different movie entirely (like when you're watching a Youtube clip on one tab when the trailer for whatever movie is coming out that week starts playing on an ad on another page).
This aired almost a year ago on Syfy and is just hitting DVD now, which is amusing since Nemec has since joined the cast of Supernatural, which has also taken the piss out of ghost hunter shows on more than one occasion. I wish he was in the film more, but at least we can get our Nemec Fix (if such a thing exists) on a show that can often do this sort of thing twice as good in half the time.
What say you?