Christina's House (1999)

FEBRUARY 2, 2011


A lot of horror movies have a final scare/shock that makes absolutely no sense (Pieces being one of the best), but Christina’s House is the rare film in which the final scare actually changes what the plot was about... and makes absolutely no sense. And unlike Pieces or whatever, the movie is a dull bore, and that final twist, while cool (in a baffling way), doesn’t save it, nor do any of the 3-4 other isolated moments of inspired insanity that occur in the otherwise lousy film - it's certainly the only one I can recall that tries to make a scare out of a sandwich.

One of those things isn’t really a moment, it’s a character – the heroine’s insanely angry boyfriend (played by Brendan Fehr, who between this and The Forsaken should never be allowed in a horror movie again – and Final Destination doesn’t count because he died after like 2 minutes). Many of the few times I found myself enjoying the movie revolved around scenes of his character lashing out at someone out of nowhere, particularly when he suddenly dives onto a guy, smashing through a giant store window, and then beats the piss out of him. Why? We are to assume it’s because the guy was talking to his girlfriend, but so much time passes between the two incidents it becomes a comically insane and motiveless moment. There’s also an amazing bit where a cop is questioning the girl about a recent disappearance, and he suddenly goes “What the fuck is this about?!?!?”, even though the conversation wasn’t exactly accusatory. The cop’s reply is even funnier; he suddenly cranks his OWN anger level up to 11 and shouts back “YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!”, as if Fehr had been interrupting him repeatedly instead of for the first time.

The other insanity comes courtesy of John Savage, who is creepily protective of his daughter, to the extent that I thought this might be some sort of weird incest horror movie. At one point he tells her how nice she looks, and when she says thanks and moves along, he sort of sighs and gets a rejected look on his face. There’s also a bit where he gives her a fatherly-seeming kiss her on the cheek, but it lasts about 5 seconds too long. Also, while I appreciate nudity as much as the next guy, it was a bit odd to see the girl naked (twice) when she is playing a 16 year old (actress Allison Lange, making her 3rd or 4th HMAD appearance here, was 21 at the time of production – and this was her first film so hurrah for not yet earning a no-nudity clause!).

But it’s just so damn dull. It’s sort of a slasher, but after the first kill (the world’s oldest “selling cookies for my school” girl) in the opening scene, we don’t get another for a while, and it’s just some random rival of Lange’s character who we’ve only seen once before. Lange’s friend dies off-screen at the top of the 3rd act, and that’s about it. The rest of the movie is just Lange complaining about hearing sounds, arguing with her boyfriend, or bickering with her video-game obsessed little brother, who at one point walks with a game boy, tapping away but isn’t even looking at the screen. Also he plays N64 at one point but the sounds we hear are strictly Atari 2600. Come on, I get that horror movies don’t have huge budgets and thus couldn’t exactly afford Goldeneye, but I see this all the time and it always drives me nuts (it’s usually Donkey Kong that we hear, though this sounds more like Missile Command or one of its ripoffs). There had to be SOME shitty N64 game that they would have let you use for cheap/free.

The 3rd is somewhat inspired, however. After starting with another one of those insane moments, which I won’t spoil it in case you plan to watch (I guess fans of Lange’s assets have a good reason to check the movie out), the now-revealed killer starts showing off all of the “modifications” he has made to the house, including a floor trap that sends the victim into a sort of “vase” lined with razor blades. Very Saw-like, but in 1999! And there’s a lot of chasing, Savage playing the hero, and a truly nutty killer rambling almost nonstop while wearing eyeliner for some reason. The only thing keeping it from being a true classic is the fact that no one, not even the killer, seems to be having any fun. So despite what sounds like an amazing finale on paper, it’s actually still kind of tedious.

It’s also remarkably PG-13 when it comes to the violence, which is weird since the language and (brief) nudity were clearly in the R-rated realm - they couldn’t possibly have thought they might get away with the teen-friendly rating. He just sort of swings the opening kill victim around until she dies (broken neck I guess?), and the other two are more or less off-screen. And despite two fairly serious injuries, Savage survives, which is a rarity in and of itself. So you’ll have young people shouting the F-bomb at parents and police officers and a naked 16 year old getting leered at by her own father, but you can’t bring yourself to kill a perennial victim or offer up a cool kill scene? What the hell, movie?

Well, whatever. It’s almost 12 years old and I had never heard of it until I saw it in the listings under Horror during one of my “oh yeah, I pay 100 bucks a month for cable, I should at least see if there’s anything on I can use for HMAD” sessions. Which never seem to work out well for me (other movies discovered this way include Dismal, Kinky Killers, Demon Hunter, Kemper, Desert Of Blood... Christ). *Cancels cable*

What say you?


  1. i got grizzly last week searching for horror but i usually just get crap (chiller) or first run new to video stuff on pay per view

  2. Lifetime has actually aired this movie several times (as well as stuff like Devil in the Flesh) which I think is hilarious, since it proves your point about the lack of onscreen violence.

  3. I picked this up on dvd for 50 cents at a garage sale. I got ripped off for about 48 cents.

  4. I just watched this movie this morning. What a strange, low-budget feel... almost homemade. The acting was decent, I thought, but I was also creeped out with the father's lascivious behavior towards his daughter. And yeah, how DID he survive those two injuries near the end of the movie? Also, did you notice how it kept switching from day to night -- you could never tell if it was supposed to be morning or evening? And what about when the main character sees the cop outside of her school and runs home, but then her brother is suddenly home from school right after her? Weird.

  5. There's also the scene where Chris and Karen wish Howie a good night when it's...broad...daylight.


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