Wednesday, May 21, 2014

House in the Alley (Scream Factory DVD) - Baby's Got ... an Axe?

The Summer of Fear is here for Scream Factory fans. May has seen some pretty strong releases featuring Evilspeak, Final Exam, Herzog's Nosferatu and a super collectible edition of Sleepaway Camp. While that may seem like a great big buffet of horror goodness, there's another DVD that's popping out of their golden womb this month, House in the Alley. While you may not have heard of House in the Alley it actually is a strong, newer release from the Factory straight out of Vietnam where it had some significant success. Sometimes it's important to support a label's popular releases, the ones that we grew up on. House in the Alley may be a newer feature releasing in 2012, but it has all the hallmarks of mysterious, subdued, baby horror with moments to creep you out and moments to disturb.

Synopsis from Scream Factory:

A young couple, settling into their new life in their spacious home, loses their newborn to a miscarriage. After the tragedy, Thao is inconsolable and won’t let her baby’s body leave the house. She soon begins suffering from terrifying visions and she slowly begins to lose her sanity. Her husband, Thanh, soon begins experiencing strange things around their home and when his wife turns on him, he must race to uncover the secrets of the house in the alley before they both lose their sanity…and their lives

Tragedy in childbirth has given ... well... birth to some of our favorite horror features. There are movies as popular as Rosemary's Baby or It's Alive and of course then there are features like Inside that just test the boundaries of horror. While House in the Alley begins as a somber, sad movie that features the loss of a child, it quickly evolves into a frenzied state of panic with supernatural twists and turns that wreak havoc with your sense of reality and narrative. Don't get me wrong. This isn't an avant-garde ghost picture. It's really more of a psychological supernatural thriller. Watch a woman go inconsolably mad at the loss of her child and then watch a house or a visitor to the house or her own mind dissolve her sense of reality methodically. It is in the female lead's performance that the most angst and pain can be felt while being heavily supported by a strong leading man who conveys sympathy and genuine concern. It is very easy for me to put myself into our protagonist's shoes having had a baby girl in the last two years.

This is a DVD release from Scream Factory. It looks good, but does not feature extras. Scream Factory often creates its own motives for releasing lesser known features. In this case a very successful picture from Vietnam with horror base needed a release on American soil to bring it's power to the states.

While I compare it in genre to Rosemary's Baby, please understand that this production isn't quite on the same plane as a big Hollywood feature produced by William Castle and it isn't about the anti-christ or pregnancy a la Satan. It's pacing is flawed at times, running slow and often the chaos is disjointing and a little confusing. The supernatural elements do fit in with many of familiar tropes and aesthetics from Asian Horror of the mid-thousands. Fans of baby horror, J-Horror and Asian supernatural thrillers need apply.

You can order House in the Alley now. Releases May 27th

-Doc Terror

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