STUDIO: Bauer Martinez
MSRP: $19.99
RUNNING TIME: 88 Minutes

The Pitch

It’s Saw meets House on Haunted Hill, and surprisingly enough – it’s pretty good.

The Humans

Dennis Hopper, Kelly Brook, Steven R. Monroe and a few other no-names…err…new comers.

"Do I like being a cop? Damn right."

The Nutshell

Nine people wake up in an unfamiliar house. A disembodied voice over the loudspeaker tells them that the last person alive wins five million dollars. And of course, The Voice won’t be doing any killing. Let the games begin.

The Package

The artwork is fairly lame, centering on Dennis Hopper (the only sellable face in the cast). There’s a lot of space given to this big red eyeball, so much space, in fact, you’d think it would have something to do with the film, but alas it doesn’t. It’s just another attempt at generic creepiness.

"So it’s a spaceship, right? I’m supposed to see a spaceship?"

The transfer, however, is quite lovely. Everything is crisp and clear, the whole house is extremely well lit and the dark areas are deep and a very even tone of black. Visually, this is definitely a well-made film, not a demo disc, but it leaves nothing at all to complain about. The same could be said for the audio as well, as there is technically nothing to complain about, but there’s nothing to praise it for either. You can hear everything but there wasn’t a lot of effort put into the surround track or even the sound design for that matter.

They also included a few theatrical trailers but seeing as this is probably worth no more than an evening rental it’s not that big of a deal that this disc isn’t stacked.

The Lowdown

When I read the synopsis for this movie on the back of the case, I rolled my eyes a little. It sounded very much like Saw 2 and I was a little disappointed that the aping of those flicks had already begun. So I went into it somewhat reluctantly, not expecting to see much of anything except a rehash of some already distinguished elements.

Everyone was surprised when Teela gave up her usual garb to start dressing like her father.

I was very pleased to see that the similarities to the aforementioned movies pretty much end at the basic plot. Yes – 9 strangers are in a house. Yes – an unknown on-looker sees their every move via surveillance. Yes – they’re put into a position in which they’re tempted (forced?) to kill one another. Yes – there’s a cash prize for the one survives the night. However, while the Saw movies and Haunted Hill both concentrated on jump scares and clever ways to kill off the cast, this little flick decided to focus on characterization and developing a (mostly) unpredictable story, dedicating the entire first hour of the film to the setup and introduction. It may sound like a lot on paper but it was handled very well and at least made the effort to make us care about the characters that we’re supposed to care about and care enough to dislike the ones who needed it. The only problem with that is that 8 people have to die and when you’ve spent an entire hour with setup, it’s more than a little obvious that a lot of the deaths were rushed because of it. But nevertheless, the movie strode along with a decent pace, not only keeping my attention, but having me interested to see how it ended.

Yikes. The houses in these subdivisions keep getting closer and closer together.

The climax itself was a little transparent, but the actual ending of the movie was twist enough to be interesting and nifty, without going the Shyamalan route and making the twist the centerpiece of the film. At the end of the day, this probably isn’t going to be something you’ll want to add to your collection, but it’s most definitely worth the price of a rental.

6.0 out of 10