Director – Stuart Gordon
Cast – Ezra Godden, Jay Brazeau, Campbell Lane, Chelah Horsdal, David Racz, Nicholas Racz
Release Year – 2005
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Director Stuart Gordon seems to have a strong fascination with H.P. Lovecraft’s stories. He made his mark on the horror scene with his debut feature film Re-Animator, which is based off of a Lovecraftian story. He followed that amazing film with another Lovecraftian story, From Beyond, which turned out great as well. His career continued to be made off of Lovecraft’s genius several other times(that I won’t spend time mentioning’ so it was only fitting for him to use a Lovecraftian story for his first entry into the “Masters of Horror” series.
Dreams In The Witch House stars Ezra Godden as Walter Gilman, a graduate student who rents a room in an old 17th century home. Soon after his move-in he begins having horrendous nightmares involving a creepy woman, a woman who happens to be a witch to whom the home once belonged to. As the dreams grow in severity and begin to take a physical toll on him he learns that there are evil forces residing in the walls of his room. These forces have an agenda to manipulate him into carrying out a violent crime he would never fathom committing. However, given the forces attack and manipulate him during his sleep, he may not have a chance at stopping them from leading him to the horrendous crime.
This one started off interesting and held its own while blending a fair amount of fantasy and surrealism into the story. We get a rat with a human face(sounds like a Disney cartoon eh?) that speaks to Walter, as well as a strong surreal sexual element at the hands of the old witch, which I found quite funny by the way. Heh. The conflict we get is interesting, especially because much of what happens to Walter happens during his sleep, which leaves him quite helpless at fighting it off. If it were me going through that I would be pretty distraught over my inability to fight off the evil forces, and we get a nice look at the aftermath of that. Walter’s descent into madness was probably the single best aspect of this film because he basically dug his own hole without even trying to. Poor lad.
I have not read the original Lovecraft story from which this is based off of, and from what I have read it seems this teleplay by Stuart Gordon does not follow it very much. That may be the reason why I really just could not get into this film. I will admit it is a moderately positive watch, but I was expecting more from it story wise. We get a fair amount of gore however and a pretty creepy ending sequence that brings horror-icon and Stuart Gordon sidekick Jeffrey Combes to the screen, in the role of a Crime Scene Investigator. It is always a pleasure to see Jeffrey Combes do his thing in this genre.
Overall, this is an OK entry into the “Masters of Horror” series that I would recommend to those who enjoy Stuart Gordon’s work(as I do) and would like to see his take on this Lovecraftian tale. It is not amazing, but should be enough to suffice to those knowing what to expect.
– I ranked this film #20 of the 26 entries in my Ranking the “Masters of Horror” Entries post.