As someone who reviews films rather often, I am forced to sit through the good, the bad, and the ugly that the genre has to offer. Unfortunately, as horror fans, we know there is a ton of ‘the ugly’ out there, too. I don’t mind going into films blind, but once I’ve realized I have a dud on my hands, it’s too late and I now have to sit through the rest, hoping for a miracle turnaround. Sadly, that turnaround never came with Michael Bartlett’s House of Last Things.
Generally, this is the point where I would write out a little synopsis of the film to sum it all up for you guys… except this time around, I don’t even know what the Hell this movie was about! The official synopsis reads: A mind-bending thriller set in Portland, Oregon about an unspoken tragedy and its effects on a house, its temporary caretakers and the owners, a classical music critic and his wife on a recuperative trip to Italy.
House of Last Things was confusing from start to finish; I didn’t know if it was a haunted house movie, a ghost story, or something in between. There was flashbacks and transitioning scenes from one couple, the current caretakers of the house, to another couple, the true owners of the house, hallucinations, and God knows what else. I want to give writer/director/producer Michael Bartlett the rightful credit he deserves for creating a unique and original film here, but either it didn’t make any sense at all or it went completely over my head.
While I felt things were all over the place and the film could have been cut shorter by about a full hour, I do want to point out some positives. I did enjoy a few of the acting performances. It was nice seeing RJ Mitte in a role other than Flynn aka Walt Jr. of Breaking Bad fame and Lindsey Haun’s performance as Kelly was enjoyable at times (not to sound like a complete pig, but having multiple scenes with her in her underwear did help move the film along a tad), but I have to give it up to Blake Berris. Berris’ portrayal of Jesse was great the entire way through. He goes from playing the annoying and idiotic, horny stoner to a Randy Schulman (Leverage, Grimm) mini-me, clad in glasses, golf attire, and all, rather seamlessly. While his performance did add to the confusion a bit, I still was able to get something out of it all.
In addition to the powerful performances, the film itself was beautifully shot. Bartlett and his team clearly know how to make a movie. I just wish it was something more up my ally.
Michael Bartlett took a huge chance making a film like this and in my opinion, it just didn’t pay off. I do, however, invite you to give it a shot and see for yourself. You may see something that I completely missed. It is available now from Revolver Entertainment on DVD and VOD.
I give House of Last Things 1 yellow balloon out of 5.