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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Review: Hinsdale House

Director: Steve Stanulis
Screenplay: Derek Ross Mackay and Steve Stanulis
Year: 2019

Every now and then there are movies that evade my criteria as a horror movie fan and savvy and their description leads me to believe they might be good. Maybe the problem is that I’m too optimistic or maybe too naive. It doesn’t matter which of the two is at play, the reality is that with “Hinsdale House” I had hopes that it would be a good haunted house movie, and it ended up being a letdown.

In upstate New Your, the Hinsdale House is known for the strange supernatural happenings that have taken place there. A group of moviemakers and actors go to this house to make a horror movie, ignoring the warnings about the history of the place, Shortly after arriving at the place they start experimenting supernatural happenings and they realize that the warnings were real and not just part of some myth. 

“Hinsdale House” is the sort of movie that puts an end to any expectations it might have garnered in its first 15 minutes of runtime. During the first scenes, there is some exposition in the form of text to quick to read to the backstory of the previous happenings that took place in the house, which is never a good sign, and this information is repeated later through the character’s dialogues. In these scenes, we also get to know the cast, which is a group of recently chosen actors to be a part of the movie that will be recorded in the presumably haunted house.  

After reaching the house, something that draws attention is that every character makes similar vlogs documenting their first day of production, something that signals a lazy and badly written screenplay. The issues with the script of Derek Ross Mackay (“Red Money”) and also director Steve Stanulis (“Clinton Road”) keep coming in the way of unrealistic dialogues, underdeveloped and uninteresting characters, and a desperately slow rhythm. 

The script is not the only thing to blame for this movie not working out and, as unbelievable as it might seem, the technical quality is even worse. The acting is flat, rigid and simply awful, and put into question the direction of Stanulis, who also stars in the movie together with Eric Freeman (“The Blacklist”) and Victoria Oliver (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”). On top of that, the cinematography is bland and the sound mixing faulty, with some scenes much louder than others without any apparent reason. 

Because of budget reasons, “Hinsdale House” depends more on what it can achieve with the atmosphere than with the special effects. The effort to create a disturbing atmosphere is evident, but nothing of what they try to do works, starting with the bad acting that makes it hard to get interested in the plot. A great deal of the takes that are presented are done from the perspective of security cameras, which lingers too long on images where nothing happens and where they also overuse effects that simulate video issues that makes it monotonous and uninteresting. 

“Hinsdale House” has a short runtime of 65 minutes that feels like an eternity. Still, it has a good 15 minutes excess where we are seeing takes in which nothing happens, although nothing happens in the whole movie. It is impossible to point out something that this movie does well and my only motivation to finish it was being able to write this review and have my catharsis where I can justify the time spent watching it.

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