“House of Deadly Secrets” gives the world, at long last, a haunted house movie for the HGTV Age — a house flipping that goes terribly, horrifically wrong.
Maggie and Ava are mother and daughter who move into this lovely Arts and Crafts era two story house with lots of beautiful wood floors, exposed beams, stairs.
“Family entanglements” kept the house on the market, or so says the too-helpful neighbor (Patty McCormack) when Maggie (Angie Peterson) asks.
But newly-divorced Maggie is spooked, pretty much from the start. She gets up in the middle of the night to chase a bearded homeless squatter who has been sleeping downstairs. She runs back to that neighbor, who is caring for a mute invalid, for more house-flipper questions.
“Windows seem to open and close on their own…for my own piece of mind, is there any history I should know about, someone DYING in the home?”
Man, all the “Fixer Upper” and “Flip or Flop,” “Flipping Vegas” and “First Time Flippers” episodes the girlfriend makes me sit through, they NEVER let on that haunting is a standard business hazard. Not even on “Zombie House Flipping.”
But Maggie goes right to the supernatural solution to her worries. Sure enough, there’s a story, a girl who disappeared there years and years ago. That realtor’s going to get an earful.
“We’re making friends with the neighbors…and the ghosts!”
But that neighbor isn’t who she seems. The mute stroke victim tries to warn them, tapping on the windows, mumbling. At least the realtor’s the first one to get it. “Sylvia” really wants that house.
Let the “accidents” begin.
“Let me make you breakfast!”
There are few sins as mortal to a “horror” film as giving away your secrets too easily, and “House of Deadly Secrets” goes straight to hell in a hurry. So much is explained, pointed out and underlined in the first act that it’s going to take a whopper or three to pull this clunker into “scary” territory.
It bends towards ridiculous and takes on the tone of a dark comedy with some of the accidents and deaths.
McCormack, who has a career stretching back to “Playhouse 90” and “The Golden Age of Television,” might have taken on a lip-smacking Lin Shaye glee in Sylvia’s malevolence, but the direction and tone of the movie holds her back.
Suspense? Barely a moment of it.
Director Doug Campbell, famed for TV’s “Stalked by My Mother” and “Stalked by My Doctor” and “Stalked by My Neighbor” and “Stalked by My Doctor: The Return,” can’t get a handle on dark comedy. Which is odd, considering those credits. That leaves him with a duller-than-dull thriller.
But if nothing else, he and the screenwriters are to be praised for what is apparently house-flipping’s dirtiest little secret. Repainting that “fixer upper” doesn’t chase away the bad mojo, and they know it.
MPAA Rating: TV-14, graphic violence
Cast: Angie Peterson, Violet Hicks, Philip Boyd, Patty McCormack
Credits:Directed by Doug Campbell, script by Andrea Canning, Bryan Dick, Elizabeth Stuart. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:26