The House With 100 Eyes Review

A smart, graphic snuff film with black humor

Independent horror is littered with bad films based on half-baked concepts. That is why it is refreshing to come across The House With 100 Eyes. The name references a home outfitted with concealed cameras for the purpose of recording snuff films. A gritty torture porn entry with a satirical edge, the film is wonderfully subversive in dealing with a very tired subject for the genre. The plot follows a seemingly normal married couple on the surface that happen to be serial killers. The couple lures victims into their house and then makes snuff films of their deaths. The House With 100 Eyes is not for the faint of heart. Even veteran horror fans may have trouble with certain scenes.

Ed (Jim Roof) and Susan (Shannon Malone) are a married couple with a fetish for murder. Susan is an expert with poisons, as her prior husband and neighbors found out. She is the June Cleaver of female serial killers, happily supporting Ed’s plans with a smile. Ed has a grand idea for their evil schemes. He wants to film a triple-victim snuff video and sell it on DVD. They’ve turned their Southern California home into a private dungeon on the inside, decked out with cameras in every room. It is here they lure their victims and then torture them on camera in the most gruesome ways possible. Ed wants to capture all of this on tape and make it into a documentary. He even has a name for his production company, “Studio Red.”

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The couple’s twisted plan involves picking up three people off the streets, two girls and a guy. They mislead three wayward teenagers living on the streets with the promise of $500 each for filming an adult movie in their home. It’s a plan that works perfectly until one of the teenagers gets nervous and wants to back out of the arrangement. Tensions that had been bubbling beneath the surface between Ed and Susan play a critical role as this “film-shoot” gets bloodier.

The film laces their characters with a satirical, smart edge.

The House With 100 Eyes would not work as a film if it wasn’t for Ed and Susan. The lead characters are deliciously evil while remaining human, a tough trick to pull off. Ed has anger issues, while Susan is a needy wife. The actors are superb in those roles. The film laces their characters with a satirical, smart edge. It helps prevent them from becoming the grim, unrelenting caricatures so common in extreme horror.

Directors Jay Lee and Jim Roof have definitely taken a cue from the cult classic Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. That film was a smart deconstruction of the slasher, including a wink the audience had already seen all of this before in other films. This film takes what we’ve come to expect from grisly torture porn and subverts their ideas, a wildly fresh take on the concept.

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Those into torture porn will satisfy their cravings for extreme violence and gory deaths. The House With 100 Eyes does not shy away from that aspect of the genre. One poor girl is fed flesh from her own stomach in raw detail. If you’ve seen Hostel, you’ll know what to expect in terms of graphic torture.

Technically, The House With 100 Eyes is a found-footage film. An opening coda claims its video was edited together from tapes left by an unknown source. Thankfully, the storytelling doesn’t slavishly devote itself to the conventions of that style. The relatively short film at nearly 76 minutes is a taut, entertaining ride for horror fanatics. Mainstream horror these days often has to pull its punches, something the independent House With 100 Eyes strenuously avoids with its raw brutality and dark humor.

This is one of the finest independent horror films made in the past decade. The actors aren’t famous names and there are no cute teen protagonists. It is simply a dark look into the minds of two twisted people, peppered with a few laughs to keep the film going.

Movie ★★★★☆

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