The family quickly notices several strange things, such as the stone grave imbedded in the wooden floor under one of the rugs. Apparently it is “common practice in Boston” to bury the dead indoors during the winter when the ground is hard. Also there is the creepy babysitter who rarely speaks, never actually watches the son and has evil eyebrows.
The most upsetting thing of all (next to a five-minute attack by a giant bat and the string of horrible murders plaguing the estate) turns out to be the cellar door. After spending a third of the movie trying to get the door open, the cast spends the rest of the film wishing they’d keep it shut. Audiences will love screaming at the characters not to enter: Do not follow the bloody streaks into the cellar. Do not follow the disembodied children cries into the cellar. Do not go into the cellar to look for your missing son. Do not go into the cellar to fetch a tin of canned beets. And so on…
Next to common sense, the thing that could most help these luckless characters is a doorstop. Even after the fifth or sixth iteration, they still don’t seem to realize that the door shuts and locks itself behind them. Though the easiest to solve, this is the least of the problems involving plot and motivation. More on that at the end, in the spoilers section.
Severed heads and limbs are also a highlight and the subject for my giallo screenshot/artwork comparison; I’m making a bit of a stretch and using an older painting, “Madusa,” by Dutch master Rubens. The murders, while gruesome, are offered without much guilt or consequence since we have little reason to care for these characters. The enormous amount of danger and trauma the child actor is placed into seems pretty tasteless, but his whiny dub and inexcusable stupidity ensure emotional distance.
Walrus Rating: 4.5
The plot holes is this film almost defy enumeration, but I will point out some of the most atrocious. Most have to do with the ill-conceived basement, magically free of the overwhelming stench of multiple rotting corpses. Also, it has a staircase that leads up to the indoor grave, which makes no sense from either side: there is no body and the stone is too heavy to move. As far as the characters go, we actually witness the babysitter suspiciously mopping up gallons of blood from the most recent victim even though we eventually discover she knows nothing about the murders. Then there’s the suicide of the previous owner at his job, when he should have been easy bait for the killer (he was living in the house alone…). Finally, the ending which involves a woman, possibly a ghost, coming out of nowhere and walking away into the sunset with the only survivor. Um… what?