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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Review: The Strange House (Das Schaurige Haus)

Director: Daniel Prochaska

Screenplay: Marcel Kawentel and Timo Lombeck

Year: 2020

A mother moves from the city to a rural area with her two children after the death of her husband. What they don’t know is that the house they are moving into has a dark secret. Hendrik, the eldest of the children, begins to witness strange events and begins to inquire about the previous inhabitants of the house and what happened there, which takes him along with his brother and his friends on an expedition to reveal the truth about the house’s curse.

"The Strange House" or "Das Schaurige Haus" in its original title, is a typical haunted house story, but aimed at a younger audience with a style reminiscent of "The Goonies" or the more recent "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”. For most of the film, we follow Hendrik (Leon Orlandianyi), a teenager who has to adjust to life outside of the city and away from his friends, apart from already dealing with the recent loss of his father. It doesn't take long to highlight the importance of the family theme, both on the protagonist's side, and on the supernatural side, which accompanies the film until the end.

When viewing the surroundings of the house, the great natural aesthetic value of the location stands out and it is captured in the well-executed cinematography. The calm exterior images contrast with the dark and tense shots inside the house. However, there is never too much tension as director Daniel Prochaska places many comedic reliefs throughout the development of the plot to purposely not overcharge them and offer a more bearable experience for the audience he focuses on. 

Along the same lines, the horror is toned-down, appropriate for a young audience. Some jump scares and shocking images appear, but nothing too strong and surely ineffective for somewhat more experienced audiences in the genre. Its plot is also simple and predictable, again as a consequence of the type of audience it is addressed to.

"The Strange House" is a typical haunted house story, whose mild horror style makes it ideal for introducing youngsters to the genre without traumatizing them. Its plot is easy to follow and quite predictable, which may not be to the liking of those looking for something deeper or more terrifying. For the youngsters, it is a fun mystery adventure with some dashes of horror.

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