With the 2018 release of the extreme horror film, Trauma, Artsploitation Films entered my radar. I had never heard of the distribution company before, and they definitely piqued my interest. With the recent release of THE HOUSE, they’ve further catapulted themselves into one of my favorites.
We meet German soldier, Fleiss (Frederik von Luttichau), German Office Kriener (Mats Reinhardt), and their Norwegian prisoner, Rune (Sondre Krogtoft Larsen), as their friend Max (Espen Edvartsen) lay dying in the snow. Based on how upset Fleiss is, it is evident he and Max were close friends. Asking if they can leave Rune behind, and drag their dead friend through the wet landscape, Kriener reminds Fleiss that they have lost their bearings, and aren’t even sure where they will stay that night, let alone days from now. They reluctantly trudge on. As the darkness grows into night, they arrive at a seemingly abandoned house, however inside, it appears recently inhabited.
There’s food simmering on the stove, a radio blaring in a back room, and lights burning bright throughout. But upon further searching, there is nobody else there. Rune is obviously sick, with his leg wound gangrenous, so Kriner cleans him up and lets him sleep. It is agreed between the other two that they will sleep in alternating four-hour intervals, with the other keeping watch. Fleiss reassures the hesitant Kriener, as Fleiss used to be a paratrooper so this is child’s play to him.
However, an unknown time passes and Fleiss is dozing, only to be abruptly woken up by a scream. Checking on Rune, they are unsure where the scream came from, but they see the book that Rune found, a sort of guest book for the house, adorned with symbols on the cover. Because it is in multiple languages the soldiers don’t know, it can’t be certain what all of the stories say, but what can be read tells the lives of previous occupants, whose narratives are similar to theirs – lost in the snow, in need of shelter and losing those braving the harsh wilderness with them. As the night turns into morning, the Germans set out from the house to continue their journey, leaving Rune behind. After what seems like hours of walking, they realize they have been going in a circle and are back at the house. When they enter the house for a second time, well, that’s where their story really starts. Intertwined with the soldiers’ stories, is the story of what happened in the house long before their time, that is causing the current events inside. The house wants them to suffer, as the others before them have suffered. Is this their hell? The suspense continues to build until the climax, that while not explosive or stomach-punching, it still mind-blowing.
THE HOUSE, or HUSET, written and directed by Reinert Kiil (Inside the Mind of a Splatter Director), is a dark, dismal, and dreary film, which fits perfectly with the atmosphere. While it’s sometimes too dark to see everything that is happening, the darkness is almost its own character as it adds too much to the film to really be taken away. The fantastic score by John-Erling H. Fredriksen adds to the creepiness. Fleiss’s fanaticism about The Third Reich is historically correct and is a reminder as to what war they’re fighting in and what side they’re on. THE HOUSE is a solid ghost story with a slight twist that will leave you running in circles looking to escape.
THE HOUSE is now available on DVD and Digital HD, including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Vudu, and more.