Making instant friends with fellow phantom enthusiast Justin Rourke (Patrick Flynn) and soon butting horns with hardened soldier Major Anthony Lester (Grant Masters), Sands dutifully manages to rouse the entity from it’s recent inactivity. With the creature soon on the loose, however, just what exactly is the mysterious game it wishes to play?
Filmed on location at an abandoned military base, and with the actors required to remain onset throughout filming for added authenticity, Stormhouse at least looks the part. The sets – particularly the holding bay itself and the titanic adjoining corridor – are utilized to breathtaking effect, lending proceedings rather grandiose production values despite the film’s decidedly more modest budget.
Light is also used to impressive effect, both as it flares through the retractable door, showing off the actors’ imposing surroundings, and in a few instances of effective restraint. Stormhouse is most successful in the intimate, claustrophobic one-to-ones with the largely silent entity. Catching only the barest outline of the actors’ faces and basking the cage itself in a thick, all-encompassing darkness, dread naturally follows.
It’s a pity then that the rest of the movie is so resolutely unengaging. Featuring the odd piece of surveillance footage (a la Paranormal Activity), a solid dose of possession (Event Horizon), and spontaneously animating the most baffling of inanimate objects (why have I not seen Rubber yet?), the filmmakers don’t seem quite sure what their entity is – contented in the fact that they can drag the odd character into shadow and redecorate the walls with the rest.
The cast themselves are a pretty uninspiring bunch, able as I was to incorporate much of the film’s net characterization in my above synopsis. Aside from a healthy dose of dopey machismo, clunking plot advancement and a random bout of homophobia, there is little on offer to flesh out the ensemble but average-to-bad acting and a general air of unlikeability. Katherine Flynn – who plays our heroin – comes the closest to giving a noteworthy performance, but even she can’t quite feign fear after the umpteen rendition of “Frere Jacques”.
Though by no means the worst horror movie you will see this year – unfortunately more a statement on the genre than a reflection of the film itself – Stormhouse will unlikely fulfill all of your adrenal needs. Thoroughly bland, occasionally eerie and sporadically laughable, if you approach the story with an open mind and willingness to follow it wherever it may take you, there is definitely a good time to be had.