House of Darkness is a horror movie that takes a familiar setting and places it firmly in today’s world. Justin Long plays a man who has met a woman (Kate Bosworth) at a bar. She invites him in after he drives her home. What follows is a night of seduction and secrets. It does not take long for audiences to figure out what direction things are headed, which is part of the charm of House of Darkness. Writer-director Neil Labute (2010’s Death at a Funeral) has put together a story that has excellent foreshadowing and tension. Some not so subtle clues will tip off audiences (horror fans will piece things together quickly), but the film remains engaging.
This is due to some fantastic performances from the entire cast. The majority of the movie are verbal sparring sessions involving Long. The character is one that has been seen before. He has expectations of where the night is going and is unafraid to make assumptions. But he is also pitiful. His mannerisms and awkward jokes are groan-inducing on a number of levels.
Bosworth is also excellent as the mysterious woman. She shares great chemistry with Long and has him backpedaling the entire time. There is an allure to her that adds to the suspense of House of Darkness. Even after the answer has come to some, Bosworth and Long keep things entertaining. An air of intrigue surrounds House of Darkness. It is a taut situation, and it becomes obvious that Long may not be in as lucky of a situation as he thinks he is. The horror is built through cryptic comments. It is a case of knowing where things should go, but having no idea how the plot is going to get there.
This type of straightforward storytelling can be hard to pull off. The script does not rely on twists and is all about building to a reveal. It is just a matter of whether House of Darkness can deliver. The ending is just as patient and frightening as the rest of the film. It is incredibly satisfying and an excellent conclusion to this dark and seductive thriller.
House of Darkness comes to theaters September 9 and On Demand and digital September 13
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