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John’s Horror Corner: Dreams in the Witch House (2005), Stuart Gordon’s adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s story for Masters of Horror.

January 25, 2019

MY CALL: An entertaining horror segment, but not quite worthy of being a full-fledged film. MORE MOVIES LIKE Dreams in the Witch House: For more Lovecraftian adaptations, try The Unnamable (1988), The Unnamable 2: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1992), The Resurrected (1991), Lurking Fear (1994), Dagon (2001) and The Dunwich Horror (1970). And while not “officially” based on any one Lovecraftian work, there’s also In the Mouth of Madness (1994) and The Void (2016).

A physics graduate student of the Miskatonic University, Walter (Ezra Godden; Dagon) is torn between questioning his sanity and suspicions that he’s been sleepwalking after renting a room in an old house previously the residence of a 17th century witch. Walter is haunted by a series of disturbing dreams, he wakes up in strange places, and he comes to fear for the lives of his neighbor and her infant.

The special effects are serviceable but nothing to brag about. When Walter has dreams of a rat with a human face, it seems like something from a PG-13 horror for kids; very Goosebumps-ish. Then he is seduced by a sultry naked witch (Chelah Horsdal; Altitude, AVP: Requiem) in a disturbing sex scene and there is a satisfyingly gushy eye-gouging scene. But for me, the most entertaining bits were the final scene with the human-faced rat (during the gory finale) and the simple inclusion of the flesh-bound Necronomicon as we’ve seen in so many horror films before (e.g., Jason Goes to Hell, Evil Dead, The Babysitter, The Unnamable).

Based on the story (of the same name) by H. P. Lovecraft, this is probably the weakest work by director Stuart Gordon (Dagon, The Pit and the Pendulum, Re-Animator, From Beyond). The writing is a bit dry and, outside of the star (Godden), the performances seem unrefined—as if trained actors walked in and did one take without feeling out the characters. If it were a bit shorter—clipping exposition but keeping all the effects scenes—it would make a fine segment for a lower budget anthology film. And, being part of the Masters of Horror series, I essentially view it as part of a huge anthology.

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