Christina’s House 1999 Review
Christina’s House 1999
Directed by: Gavin Wilding
Starring: Brad Rowe, Allison Lange, Chelsea Hobbs
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
I bet that the excellent work form the marketing bod that promoted the UK release of Christina’s House fooled many unsuspecting ‘victims’ in to parting with their pennies to rent it. The front boldly boasts that it’s ‘from the hit-making writers of Poltergeist’, backed with a quote from ‘Videoworld’ that reads – ‘Fantastic! It will scare the hell out of you’. Flip to the reverse and we’re informed that star, Brad Rowe, is the new Brad Pitt or Leonardo Di Caprio; and we also learn that this is a ‘must see Box Office smash‘. But the real hyperbole came from the ingenious warning box, which states that we should be prepared for the most terrifying 92 minutes of our lives. I was starting to wonder why I hadn’t seen or heard of this before? I mean it sounds just amazing…
Credit has to be given to the peeps over at Xscapade video. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much brouhaha. The quality of their work made me think about hiring them to do an advert for my blog. You know something like, “Pulitzer prize winning author, fresh from curing a deadly disease writes a blog about the cinema defining genre, ‘The Slasher.” Anyway, the box-art made me believe that this was some kind of creepy Amityville spin-off, involving a spooky haunted house and plenty of ghosts and demonic horror. But the truth is that it’s just another lamer than lame Scream wannabe that’s about as ‘terrifying’ as Thomas the Tank Engine.
Unsurprisingly it’s about a girl called Christina that lives in a house. Only joking, there’s a tiny bit more to it than that. Thing’s look like they could get tricky for our Chrissie, when we witness a jolly cookie sales girl getting shaken to death by an unseen assailant outside the abode’s front door. How he actually broke her neck by wiggling her hips was something that I still haven’t quite grasped; but hey let’s not be picky. So we soon learn that there’s a psycho up to no good in the hood and a standard murder-mystery plot ensues. Local residents begin getting offed in diluted ways and it looks like Christina’s stumbled across a spot of bother…
The only thing that’s worse than an overlong movie is an overlong boring movie, which Christina’s House pulls off to perfection. It’s more like a sleep-inducing teen drama than a horror flick, with the scares amounting to a sandwich mysteriously appearing in the kitchen or the whereabouts of the heroine’s diary. Brad Pitt, sorry, Brad Rowe, was about the best performer on offer, but I really don’t think that Mr. Jolie himself has got to watch his back just yet. You’d never believe that to be the case if you read the confident praise that he received on the back of the box. (Then again, you should see what they said about Lange!) I really couldn’t for the life of me work out what the BBFC saw here to give this an 18 rating? You’re likely to find more gore in an episode of Scooby Doo, because all the murders are committed somewhat leisurely off screen. We do get treated to a ‘crack’ in the soundtrack on the odd occasion, but I’m afraid that’s your lot folks. To make matters worse for exploitation buffs, there’s only one extremely brief flash of boobies too.
The main players that guide us through the story are all written to look slightly deranged, in an attempt to add some depth to the mystery. The thing is though, it’s constructed so poorly that you’ll guess who it is half way through anyway. Gavin Wilding – who was also behind The Wisher – has no idea how to build pace and most of the runtime moves painfully s.l.o.w.l.y. So much so, that I had a job to watch it to the end without falling into a catatonic state. To be fair, the conclusion had an interesting twist, but again, it was just sloppily handled. Stuart Allison, an experienced screenwriter, has really let himself down with this piece. It feels like he knocked something out on a notepad in five-minutes flat.
In fact, the whole plot barely made sense. I mean, how the hell did the killer manage to turn Christina’s house into a prison with unbreakable windows and centrally lockable doors, without any of the family noticing? Where did he get the money to do such a thing? And how could the Sheriff be so deplorably inept that he would ignore plenty of blatant signs that something’s not quite right inside the property that he’s meant to be watching. He even questions a hammer that’s thrown through a window, which lands directly in front of him. You’d find more character development in a commercial and we don’t even find out any reasoning for the majority of the story’s twists. The killer’s motivation is also left up to our imagination. At the end we learn that she was insane (obviously), but we’re left to work out our own ideas for the motive with no attempt at an explanation of any kind. Perhaps the wrath of the actors at the desperation of their agents to cast them in this turkey was the true reason for the massacre? Could be possible.
The end result is truly a bit of an enigma, because it must be the one time that I’ve watched a film and not written down even one redeeming feature in my note pad. It’s predictable, lame and boring rubbish. It’s not even really much of a horror flick. Slasher fans won’t like it because there is no actual slashing and If you are looking for a murder mystery then you’ll also be disappointed. For all its boasts about its great screenplay, it turns out to be more of a ‘pick one of the cast as the killer’ than ‘solve the puzzle’ and has no true logic. Even the few bizarre hints of supernatural immediately disappear when the nut job is revealed to be just a normal guy. I guess that all that I have to let you know is that this is tedious and doesn’t deserve any of your time. I’m all for slow boiling suspense thrillers, but this just sucks. Sorry.
Christina’s house should be boarded up and abandoned…
Final Girl: √