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4.3.19

WRITTEN REVIEW: The House

By CORY CARR
In the aftermath of World War 2, countless atrocities have been uncovered about the Nazi’s, beyond the expected horrors of war. There was torture, murder, and unthinkable experiments carried out across Europe and inside the various concentration camps. In the new film The House (Huset), by Norwegian filmmaker Reinert Kiil, Christmas Blood, a different kind of WWII horror story is woven.

Inspired by and filmed in an actual haunted house, it is set against the Nazi invasion of Norway. It starts with a German officer, a German paratrooper and their wounded Norwegian prisoner of war. They have been separated from their respective military units and are hiking the frozen winter Norway landscape searching for a place to come in out of the cold before they freeze to death.

And just when all seems lost, the group discover the titular house, which seems to be abandoned only moments before they arrived. Candles are lit, lights are all on, the radio is playing and there is even a pot of food simmering on the stove, but the family who lives in this simple farm house are nowhere to be seen. The story from here on out is a rather simple one. As the Germans take turns keeping watch while the other sleeps, noises start to alert them that something isn’t what it seems.


Upon a closer inspection of the house, the Officer discovers a book hidden in one of the bed rooms. On the cover are two Norse runes, and inside are various messages recorded by other past visitors. It’s a guestbook of sorts. As the Germans spend the night trying to understand what is going on, they share about themselves and along with it the terrible deeds they have done in the name of the Third Reich and their devotion to der Fuhrer.

From here more of the house’s secrets start to reveal themselves to our soldiers, including that the family who lives, or lived there, needed a priest to conduct an exorcism on their daughter. Slowly the soldiers become more terrified and bewildered by the supernatural tricks of the house, which seems to be targeting them personally. They’re left unable to trust what they see with their own eyes.

The House is a supernatural flick that makes an interesting use of the remote and scenic World War 2 setting. It could have taken place in any era with similar characters with any number of backstories, but the motivations of the Nazis and the war itself are simple and don’t need much explanation.

The winter Norway backdrop is atmospheric. and as the film marches on there is a real sense of confusion and even delirium felt as our main characters experience reoccurring events and an inability to escape from the house. This causing them to question their reality, their sanity and eventually the house itself.


The acting is pretty good, but once or twice it, or perhaps the directing, felt like a miss when several early scares present themselves and are reacted to pretty flat. I understand that they are war hardened soldiers, but with slamming doors and objects that move on their own, I would expect more of a reaction.

While I enjoy The House, even more than Kiil’s previously released flick Christmas Blood, I have mixed feelings about a few things. The first, and admittedly less important, regards the look of the film. The color correction leaves the film with a washed out palate, This emphasizes the bleakness of war and is reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan. In a similar way Saw is washed out and tinted blue, and The Matrix, though thematic, is green. It’s a stylistic decision that certainly isn’t a shortcoming, but the popularity of this sort of color correction has grown out of hand and has become a pet peeve of mine.

The second has to do with the exorcism. It’s filmed well and looks good and creepy but feels out of place against the established Norse runes and lore. I didn’t explain the rune very much earlier, but there is a bit of a theme through The House that connects the supernatural elements to the presents of the “Wunjo” and “Laguz” runes. These two Norse runes represent “Joy” and “Formlessness, chaos, the unknown”. The second of which seems more fitting.

The House hints at how the Nazis have changed the world forever by expanding out into Europe, imprisoning, killing and claiming territory and wealth as their own. This truth juxtaposed against our Nazis encountering something native to Norway – a supernatural force that CAN’T be imprisoned or killed, is GREATER than they are, and that will make them pay for their sins again their fellow man. Fantastic idea!

But, how does all this factor in with the exorcism?

Perhaps the runes, the exorcism and the war are all to illustrate the battle between good and evil, but by the end of the film I can’t tell for sure if this is Kiil’s intention. So it leaves me feeling rather “Meh”. Maybe this connection could have been strengthened up a bit.

Over all I enjoyed The House, and really liked the idea of Nazis coming face to face with the supernatural. Quite a bit can be done, and said, with that simple set up. I recommend The House to anyone if they get a chance to see it. Did I say “IF”? Thanks to the benevolent people over at Artsploitation Films, The House will be available March 5th on VOD and DVD – complete with all the most modern amenities (Making of featurette, director commentary and even one of Kiil’s earlier short films).


CORY CARR
Reviewer | Producer & Editor | Resident Conspiracy Theorist

A blue collar dude with facial hair that would make his Norse ancestors proud. He is a collector of comic books, retro video games, and obscure relics from the VHS era.

"THE HOUSE"

★ ★ ★

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