Director – Mick Garris
Cast – Tyron Leitso, Christopher Lloyd, Suki Kaiser, Nicola Lipman, Jonathan Watton, Clare Grant, Tony Todd, Christine Barrie
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Mick Garris’s second entry into his very own “Masters of Horror” series was a great improvement over the long(for this series) and mediocre Chocolate he gave us during the first season. Valerie on the Stairs contains elements seen time and time again but throws in a nice writer/author’s element that we do not see all too often in the genre. As a writer myself(I even get writer’s block with these reviews) it was a nice element much of us can relate to.
Valerie on the Stairs stars Tyron Leitso as Rob Hanisey, an aspiring writer to gains accepting into an apartment complex with a strict purpose of housing unpublished writers until they succeed at becoming published. Rob meets a few of his quirky neighbors, fellow writers of course, yet his real problems begin his first night at his new home. A mysterious woman appears to Rob on the apartment’s stairwell, calling out to him to save her from certain peril at the hands of a mysterious creature(Tony Todd!). He always tries to save her, but is unable to get to her before she disappears into the old walls of the stairwell. As these occurrences become worse Rob begins to learn that his fellow tenants may know what is going on, or worse than that…they may have something to do with it.
I have always been a fan of Clive Barker’s work, and it is obvious his influence over the horror genre is strong given this flick is ANOTHER adaptation of one of his short stories. I was iffy though, due to the fact that his story was adapted by Mick Garris, who I have never been a big fan of overall. Thankfully, he made this an interesting watch and properly executed some of the elements involved. Only “some”? Yes, only some. His pacing was moderate and slowed down during some dialogue driven scenes that slowed the film despite an awesome performance by Christopher Lloyd, a guy I can see playing more weird old men in the horror genre. One element Mick Garris did get right was his use of gore, which he laid on heavy in this film. I was pretty surprised given all of his Stephen King adaptation he has done did not have much in the area of gore, but I guess given everyone else’s use of gore in this series Mr. Garris had to play catch-up. Nonetheless, the gore was awesome and that is what matters.
Story-wise I expected more from this flick regarding the characters involved in what happened to Valerie. Some of them seemed greatly underdeveloped which may be why although their deaths were fun to watch, they would have been ever-the-more awesome had we been given more insight into their atrocities. The film’s climax is an interesting one simply because I have never seen a film end in such fashion. I would not say I enjoyed the climax, but I do give it a bit of a nod due to its originality. Personally, I found the climax a bit weak.
Overall, this is a better effort from Mick Garris that had much potential thanks to its storyline but failed to produce a great effort. We get a fair amount of gore, as well as Christopher Lloyd and Tony Todd thrown in the mix, but it was not enough to make this a great watch.
– I ranked this film #21 out of the 26 entries in my Ranking the “Masters of Horror” Entries post.