House Call

Certificate: Unrated
Running time: 18 mins
Director: Erik L. Wilson
Starring: Aimee Bello, Michael Jordan, Brad Egger, Janet Gawrys
Genre: Horror, Short
Country: USA

Janice’s relationship is one of abuse and acceptance until one day she takes a drastic step to liberate herself from her no good boyfriend.  Now, free from his physical abuse, she’s found love and happiness only for it all to be placed under threat on the one year anniversary at the hands of his mother.

There’s a lot to like about House Call¸ I’m especially a fan of the cinematography which at times is almost predatory and extremely atmospheric.  Wilson’s use of light, framing and editing all work to tell a tense story on screen and puts the audience immediately into the realm of the story.  The visual effects are particularly exemplary as there’s always a balance when working on a limited budget on something that requires computer effects to complete the visual narrative.  Knowing where to hold back and resist the urge to be overly and unnecessarily showy is a skill.  Likewise knowing where you need to pay off and just how much you can get away with showing before the financial restraints begin to the present themselves is equally as important.  Wilson hits both nails square on the head as he uses the effects as an additional character and it aids the story remarkably well.  The make up effects, like the computer effects are perfectly balanced, gory, graphic yet never breaching the reality of the film they are truly professional.

House Call is very much a tale of two women and the performances reflect that.  While Michael Jordan and Brad Egger are good as Janice’s partners the film really belongs to Aimee Bello and Janet Gawrys.  Bello (as Janice) has the soft vulnerability yet resilience and ability to bounce back that all the best female leads in horror have and is likable, believable and commanding on screen.  Her portrayal of intimacy and unnerved fear is genuine and entirely believable and is most certainly an actress to take note of.  Similarly Janet Gawrys is excellent but for completely different reasons.  Her character is larger than life and she delivers with an ‘A for acting’ in the best possible sense of the word, similar to the good Doctor in Bloodlust! and yet somehow never falls into the backyard of comedic pastiche of a horror.  Her dominance of the screen and all it is can only be seen to be believed and enjoyed, everything about her performance is just right.  Gawrys is enthralling.

The only issue with the film is the lack of exposition between Janice and the new love of her life as we’re immediately leapt to the ominous date in question and without any time to get to know him and in turn how she has changed with him in her life it’s difficult to relate to the character.  It’s a tiny issue, one could almost say there was nit picking going on and they’d be right but House Call is being held to a higher standard because it’s a better film than most short films, it’s a lot more atmospheric than more horror features.  Wilson is a director with the sensibilities of a Tobe Hooper or a John Carpenter but with the one man band still of film making of Robert Rodriguez.  Surely a Tobe Hooper / Robert Rodriguez hybrid is an exciting prospect as I find it and a definite voice for the future.  Whether his gifts extend beyond horror is unknown and as I haven’t seen his previous film, The Memoirs of Don Walker, I wouldn’t be able to comment but he’s certainly a talented, controlled and creative director who’s crafted a wonderfully atmospheric and tense film.


Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

I feel like such a heel, I told the director, Erik, that i would review this on my Tumblr for him, and just haven't gotten around to it. Probably do that today. Agree for the most part with your review, especially on the cinematography. I really liked the long takes, added a lot to the suspense level.

John Baxter said...

I had the same issue, am a bit backlogged at the moment.

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