Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Film Review: The Legend of Hell House (1973)

The Legend of Hell House (Review)
United Kingdom/1973
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...more of a goosebumps-inducer than a jumper"

Physicist Lionel Barrett, his wife, and two mediums are paid to investigate the Belasco House, also known as Hell House due to its infamous past...

The Legend of Hell House is fairly straightforward. The film starts off quickly as the group are hired and sent to the haunted house. They have a week to investigate and report their findings regarding survival after death. The group have conflicting beliefs regarding what is causing the anomalies, so they occasionally bicker as well. I thought the story, as simple as it may seem, was insightful and even spooky. I especially enjoyed the details about the house's history. The ending offers an interesting take on the haunting -- it's a bit of an open ending where you don't definitively know what's going to happen, but it was interesting, nonetheless.

The Legend of Hell House moves through the days rather quickly, but I'd say it's a bit more of a slow-burner than a fast-paced jump-scare gallery. In fact, The Legend of Hell House is more of a atmospheric, suspenseful horror film. Obviously considering its age, it's definitely old-school in its approach. If you're looking for jump-scares, this doesn't really have many. It focuses a bit more on visual scares and developing its ominous atmosphere -- more of a goosebumps-inducer than a jumper. Some of the characters are not really likable, though, and some of the dialogue was mediocre. And, although I enjoyed the ending, I thought the final act was longwinded.
The acting was good, nothing special or terrible; it's on the melodramatic side, but as were many 70s films. I really liked the cinematography -- I thought the film was beautifully shot. Some of the camerawork and angles were a bit odd, but it was also very distinct in its style. The set design was elegant. The music was helpful in creating the great atmosphere. John Hough's direction is good; like I said, some of the stylistic choices were odd, but at the very least, he builds up great suspense and atmosphere, which is the main purpose of a horror film.

Overall, The Legend of Hell House is a very good horror film. I'm a big fan of atmospheric and slow-burn horror films, and Hell House delivers on both. It has some pacing and story issues, but it's still worth watching.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, partial nudity.

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