Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: Burnt Offerings (1976)

This house is familiar. In the film, it hasn't aged a bit over more than 500 years, and well, in reality, this house was used as the funeral home in Phantasm. Not only is this house familiar, but the story isn't new to any viewer either. 

Marian (Karen Black) and Ben Rolf (Oliver Reed) have decided to rent a house for the summer with their son Davey (Lee Montgomery) and Ben's Aunt Elizabeth (Bette Davis). Driving up to the house, they assume something is wrong, as the house is a worn down mansion, much too big for just the four of them, but after speaking to the current owners, a brother and sister couple by the names of Arnold and Roz Allardyce, they realize it is no joke, but there is a catch. They can rent the house for only $900 for the entire summer, but they have to bring food to the elderly Mrs. Allardyce who will be staying in her room at the top of the landing.

Need a ride to ... hell?

Things become immediately strange as the house seems to take hold of each of the visitors in different way. Pictures in the hallway show the house in different decades, with little change to it's exterior. Upon arrival, Aunt Elizabeth, once a vivacious older lady begins to sleep in and suffer from a sudden case of forgetfulness. Marian becomes possessive of caring for Mrs. Allardyce, forbidding anyone to visit that wing of the house. Ben's anger becomes quicker than usual and he begins to have nightmares and visions of a hearse driver from his mother's funeral, which makes Ben do strange things like try to drown his son in the swimming pool and frightfully crush an almost full beer can with his bare hand all over his face and hands.  

This is acting ya'll

The film has moments of terror, but overall, the film is slightly dated. The acting is a little melodramatic. Okay, a lot melodramatic, none of these characters ever react subtly. It's also unclear exactly why they want to spend the summer out in the middle of nowhere. It's almost like Marian has become employed as the maid, because she won't stop shining and cleaning everything. Doesn't sound like my idea of a vacation at all.

Now this is a vacation.

The tension does culminate in an interesting turn of events, but by then, the release of tension is probably a little too late. I enjoyed parts of this film, it has some iconic images, but overall, there isn't anything that would make a viewer wish to give it a rewatch.   

Review: 2/5

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