The Scarehouse Gavin Michael Booth
Published Dec 05, 2014For those that like their horror films especially grisly and prefer their humour to be of the pitch-black variety, step inside The Scarehouse. The brutal tale of sorority revenge can't quite overcome the repetitiveness of how it methodically disposes of its young women, but there's at least some gruesome creativity on display in how they meet their demise, and a twisted exuberance present both behind and in front of the camera.
Corey (Sarah Booth) and Elaina (Kimberly-Sue Murray) have taken great pains to set up what initially appears to be nothing more than your run-of-the-mill haunted house designed to scare up some good-natured shrieks from those who enter. But when Emily (Dani Barker) shows up expecting a party and instead finds herself being fastened into a suffocating corset by her former sorority sisters Corey and Elaina, the true nature of their motives begins to slowly be revealed.
One by one, the girls from the sorority then arrive and are subjected to the horrific vengeance envisioned by the squeamish but cunning Elaina and the psychopathic Corey. Meanwhile, the film intermittently cuts back to the night that precipitated this bloodlust, when Corey and Elaina took part in an initiation involving a guy named Brandon that went horribly awry.
Working within a claustrophobic setting, homegrown director Gavin Michael Booth wallows in the grimy confines and garish fun-house lighting to create the ideal lurid atmosphere for the proceedings. All of the actresses have fun tapping into different variations of the stereotypically vain and surprisingly cutthroat sorority girl, with Booth given the opportunity to chew the most scenery as an acid-tongued tormentor with a flair for the dramatic.
But while individual parts may provide some sadistic pleasures (like the deadliest pillow fight you'll ever see), the overall structure of the story eventually grows tiresome. It's increasingly difficult to stay invested in the fate of what happens to these young women due to the motive for all this carnage being kept maddeningly vague until finally being revealed in a conclusion that's disappointing and at least a little illogical.
It used to be commonplace for horror films about sorority girls being massacred to reliably have some demented madman responsible for the mayhem. By flipping the script and making it two of their own hunting down these sorority sisters, perhaps the thought was that this would be a novel approach. But if it still only consists of a string of scenes in which women are graphically tortured, can this really be considered progress?