Thursday, May 30, 2013

"8213: Gacy House": this horror concept doesn't work when you already know the backstory

A “journalism horror movie” can be interesting if the amateur sleuths go into something that I s a real mystery.  This was the case with some late 90s microbudget films like “The Blair Witch Project” and “The Last Broadcast”. 
But camping out in a haunted house is, by definition, less suspenseful.  You know the guys and gays are going to “get it”.  And the idea of connecting the house to a notorious serial killer seems a bit tacky at best.
8213: Gacy House” refers to the home rebuilt in 1979 (near Chicago) after the horror house of John Wayne Gacy was demolished.  Gacy would be executed in 1994, and the rebuilt house would be abandoned in 2006. (Take the “c” out of the name when typing; the result is not nice.)
So some partygoers decide it would be fun to camp out in the house and see if the ghost of the perpetrator still prevails.   The  script lines calling out to him seem a bit offensive.  The film becomes a mockery of the “Paranormal Activity” movies, with a lot of self-reference (through blurred black-and-white videocams) thrown in. 
The film sets up an envelope for itself, with police blotters claiming that the “journalists” all died in the house.  I presume that this is all made up.  Nevertheless, the DVD offers a “feature” and a “documentary” about the “party”.   The documentary claims that at least one of the Gacy victim families has sued the filmmakers for emotional distress.
The very end is reasonably well done. At least one of the make characters gets it, losing his trousers as he his dragged up into a nethweworld. 

As a screenwriting exercise, imagine the story if the reporters went to a house and didn't know who the resident (even in a previous home) had been, just that it was haunted. 

The film (from The Asylum, 2010) is directed by Anthony Frankhauser.  

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