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SHUNNED HOUSE (2003)
Directed by: Ivan Zuccon.
Tagline: All who are evil may enter.
When a reporter ventures into an old house in search of a story, what he gets is three. In a tale that unfolds its intricate layers of murder, mystery, and paranormal activity, "The Shunned House" is a poignantly memorable horror film that finally does justice to the genre.
An adaptation of Lovecraft's novel, "The Shunned House" follows the stories of three separate characters with equally separate stories which are all connected in one way: all the characters have died within the realm of an isolated chateau. With the movie tracing three separate plot lines and time structures the movie slowly moves forward, condensing the disparity in time frame until they all become connected at a moment of intersection: when a paranormal specialist/journalist stumbles upon their stories and unfolds his discovery to his cynical girlfriend.
The film opens with a young boy whose fateful chase after a ball sucked him into a house. 25 years later a couple, Rita and Alex, are passing by the same house in hopes of investigating rumors of its being haunted for Alex's upcoming story. But all that they discover at first is a very bad odor, which seems to be coming from an unconventional hole in the ground. But suddenly Rita sees it, a room full of women, ghostly women, praying.
One by one the story reveals its separate plots through the lens of the once-cynical Rita. Forced to believe, Rita is being unveiled the visions of the house's victim's deaths. As she is taken into the story, century by century, she is randomly immersed into the house and forced to witness one death at a time. By night it haunts her dreams and has her speaking French. By day Rita is growing sick, claiming the house as the alleged reason to her illness.
As Alex works to uncover the The story of a lifetime it may become the last The story of his lifetime. The longer he and Rita stay in house the more Rita feels as if the house's reign of terror threatens to impinge upon their own lives. But with Alex intent on a story, can the two get the story and still make it out alive? Or is their a bigger price to pay for the knowledge Alex seeks?
This foreign film takes horror to new levels with its presentation. The tone, the setting, the music, everything was produced around the most detailed eye and ear to manifest a uniquely synchronized evocation of fear and darkness in an audience, one that ironically mirrors the films own characters and plot. Do not expect rays of sunshine or picturesque scenes of livelihood. In a word, this film is dark.
Moreover the film is an anthological compilation, juxtaposing the "Dreams in the Witch House", "The Shunned House" and the "Music of Eric Zann" into one tale. Of course the layering effect and the continual progression of all three tales allows the stories to unfold and open and close in on themselves, making the house the center stage for most of the plot, and coincidentally a major contribution to the film. In a way the house it its own character, the inanimate focal point for the film, the man-made character of artifice which, though inhuman, still seems to possess a life of its own.
Though there are a few hitches, as is the case with every horror movie existing, the film takes on a remarkably successful endeavor in which the plot, production, and portrayal are just enough to let the glitches slide by hardly noticed. If you allow yourself, you can completely fall into the film itself and take it for what it is, a relief from all that was before.
Giuseppe Lorusso plays Alex, the paranormal specialist/journalist who has ventured to the haunted house in hopes of a story.
Federica Quaglieri plays Rita, Alex's skeptical girlfriend who, for some inexplicable reason, is being forced to see all the visions of death in the house.
Nicolo Viganelli plays Young Alex, the boy with the ball and the white goo?