Usually, I like to think that I can find something to love about any horror film but occasionally, I watch one that is so ineptly produced and so devoid of both horror and subtext that even I have to admit that it’s just not a very good film.
Case in point: The Last House On Cemetery Lane, a British horror film that I watched on Netflix last month. I actually had high hopes for the film, based on the title alone. The title, of course, reminded me of such classic horror thrillers as Last House On The Left, The House On The Edge of the Park, The House At The End of the Street, Last House On Dead End Street, and The House By The Cemetery. These are all films that have their strengths and weaknesses but the main thing that they have in common is that, years and, in some cases, decades after first being released, they still carry the power to either scare or disturb.
The Last House On Cemetery Lane does neither.
In fact, the title itself doesn’t really work because, as far as I can tell, the house is not actually located on cemetery lane. And it’s not exactly the last house on its street either. If anything, it appears to be the only house on its street. To be honest, I can’t even remember if there’s a cemetery located anywhere near the house and, quite frankly, I’m not going to force myself sit through this film for a second time just to find out.
The Last House On Cemetery Lane tells a familiar story. Screenwriter John (who is played by Lee Bane and, giving credit where credit is due, Bane actually gives a pretty good performance) needs to write a script and he needs to get away from the distractions of London. So, he rents a house in Wales. As he tours the house, his real estate agent (played by Tessa Wood) informs him that there’s a blind old woman named Agnes who lives up in the attic but he won’t have to worry about her because he’ll never see her.
Needless to say, John isn’t thrilled about that idea but, after a minute or two of considering it, he decides that he can handle living in a house with creepy old Agnes up in the attic.
Okay, John is a screenwriter so I’m going to assume that he’s seen a movie before. Doesn’t he know that any time you’re told that there’s a creepy old woman living in the attic that means that something bad is going to happen?
Anyway, John moves into the manor and then he spends a few hours wandering around the nearby village and walking on the beach. He finds a bottle washed up on the beach. In the bottle, there’s a piece of paper that reads “Message.” John laughs and throws the bottle back out into the ocean. And the movie goes on like that for a while. As a veteran movie watcher, I kept expecting the bottle to show back up but it never did. Apparently, that whole thing with the bottle was just included to pad out the film’s running time.
Speaking of running time, this film lasts 112 minutes and you will feel every single one of those 112 minutes. The Last House On Cemetery Lane is literally one of the slowest films that I have ever watched. The deliberate pace may have been intended to work as an atmosphere builder but no … this film has no atmosphere. It’s just kind of there.
Anyway, eventually, some things start to happen. It’s all the usual haunted house crap. Things go bump in the night. Music keeps playing. John meets a mysterious woman (Georgina Blackledge) who has secrets of her own. John runs around the house and demands to know who is haunting it. He talks to the mysterious woman. He knocks on Agnes’s door. Things go bump. Music plays. John talks to the mysterious woman. John knocks on Agnes’s door. John runs around the house and demands to know who is haunting it. He talks to the…
Okay, so you might be getting the idea that not much happens in Last House On Cemetery Lane. And you would be right. What kills the film is that it ultimately becomes so repetitive. There’s only so many times that you can listen to John bitch about living in a haunted house before you just say, “Then move, you jerk!” Ironically, the film probably would have worked just fine if it has just been a 15-minute short. But stretching material this thin out to nearly two hours — well, it just doesn’t work.
I love horror films but The Last House On Cemetery Lane is one to avoid.