Horror Short Stop: A Look at House Call

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House Call is a short film by Erik Wilson that tells the story of Janice, a young woman determined to get out of a loveless marriage by any means necessary.  When she does the unthinkable, it comes to haunt her one year later in a very deadly way.

I’m always anxious about watching short horror films. I’ve seen a lot on You Tube that are absolutely incredible, and there are a fair share that I wouldn’t waste my time on again. It’s also an art form often overlooked by the public, but highly revered by those of us interested in filmmaking because it could be the thing that lands you a real gig one day.

House Call plunges us into this story from the beginning with a trapped and desperate woman, and though I found Aimee Bello’s performance in the opening act a little stiff I was still surprised when she “solves” her problem.

There aren’t a lot of scares or tricks produced in the film that are unique or make it stand apart from others, lots of things popping up in the background, bumps around the corner, and mysterious voices. I was also concerned with what the remainder of the film would be like when I saw the first evidence of CGI effects, which were unimpressive. The practical effects, however, saved that aspect of the production. The gore and make-up look like any good practical effects you’d see on a major motion picture. The cinematography of the film is also grand. The production used the Red One camera and everything about it looks professional.

While as I said the first act is a little stiff, the rest of the film is a lot of fun to watch. The set up and execution within the final ten minutes of the movie are great. Although, the film still has underlying flaws that kept it down.  Michael Jordan (no, not that one) plays Janice’s new boyfriend and might be the most rigid actor I’ve seen in a professional looking film in a long time. What few lines he has sound bland and without emotion, it’s not until the end of the piece that he truly starts to shine on the screen.

Though I thought the film was well-rounded in terms of production quality and story beats, it left me with a lot of questions. The actual story of the movie isn’t entirely unique, but it does manage to have a few twists that I didn’t expect. The bigger problem is that it lacks any character arc. The lack of character development – in the short amount of time they have – is puzzling considering the heinous things they do to other people. Plot criticism aside, it’s actually a story that I would love to see expanded on. There’s only so much time allotted in a short film and I think the surface was barely scratched with the potential the director had.

A lot of preparation and care went into the making of this movie, that much is obvious. At times it feels slow and stiff, at times it’s very exciting and turn-the-lights-on creepy. I can appreciate the film as it stands, but would really enjoy seeing it be made into a feature.