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’m sure that the creatively pencilled blurb on the cover of the U.K. release of Christina’s House tricked many an unsuspecting victim into parting with their pennies. 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 apparently, this is also a ‘must see Box Office smash‘. The real hyperbole though 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 terrifying Amityville spin-off, involving a spooky haunted house and plenty of ghosts and demonic horror. The truth though is that it’s just another lamer than lame Scream wannabe that’s 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 the titular Christina, 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 a boring overlong 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 Christina’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. This came as a surprise after reading the monumental praise Rowe received on the back of the box. (You should see what they said about Lange!) I couldn’t for the life of me work out what the BBFC thought was extreme enough here that they gave this an 18 rating? You’re likely to find more gore in an episode of Scooby Doo, because all of the murders are committed somewhat leisurely off screen. To make matters worse for exploitation buffs, there’s only one extremely brief flash of boobies too. (They are a nice pair though))
The main players that guide us through the story are all conveyed to look slightly deranged, which must’ve been an attempt to add some depth to the mystery. It’s constructed so poorly though that you’ll guess who’s behind everything by the 30 minute mark. Gavin Wilding – who also helmed The Wisher – has no idea how to sustain momentum and most of the runtime moves painfully s.l.o.w.l.y. So much so, that I had a job to watch it through to the end without my eyes growing heavy and the need for a siesta becoming overpowering. To be fair, the conclusion had an interesting twist, but again, it was just sloppily handled. Stuart Allison, the debút screenwriter, adds nothing novel or compelling to be admired and instead traipses through the usual rigmarole at the pace of a Dalek in a swamp.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’m sure that the whole plot barely made any sense at all. 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 anyone 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 is not quite right inside the property that he’s meant to be ‘protecting’? He doesn’t even bat an eyelid when a hammer that’s thrown through a window lands directly in front of him! When the twists finally do arrive, they make little sense and the killer’s motivation is pretty much left up to our imagination. At the end we learn that she was insane (obviously), but if you’re looking for a more detailed explanation you’ll have to wait for the sequel, which is set to begin production on Mars in 4015 ;).
The net result is truly an authentic case, because it must be the one time that I’ve watched a film and not written down one redeeming feature in my note pad. It’s not even really much of a horror flick. Slasher fans won’t enjoy it because there’s no actual slashing and you might find the mystery intriguing if you’re… I don’t know… 12… or… well… you know… a retard. For all its boasts about its great screenplay, it turns out to be more of a ‘pick one of the cast as the killer’ and has no logical reasoning behind its conclusion. Even the few bizarre hints of supernatural immediately disappear when the nut job is revealed to be just a normal guy. I’m all for slow boiling suspense thrillers, but this one filters out after the first thirty-seconds to leave a lame and predictable sleep aid. Nice boobies though….
Christina’s house should be boarded up and abandoned…
Final Girl: √