There’s something sinister about this house.
Is it the Queen Anne/”Psycho” design? The outdated wiring but oddly updated plumbing?
No! It’s in THE WALLS!
Any of which would have been a scarier choice than what’s “Behind the Walls” in this new horror tale from siblings billing themselves The Kondelik Brothers.
It’s a limp, murky looking and muddy-sounding tale of terror that tiptoes along for a 75 minutes before getting to its Big Payoff. Which isn’t.
A mother (Vanessa Angel of “Kingpin” and “Hall Pass”) and her three kids stand at the threshold of their new home, and she says “Perfect.”
But it isn’t five minutes before she’s changed that to “It’s only temporary.”
The little kids (Taylor Autumn Bertman, Mason Mahay) may adjust to being stuck inside after school all day. Lots of places for Hide and Seek. Little Karrie may have found a stuffed frog to play with in the basement. But she had to fall through a rotten floor to get there.
MUCH older brother Michael (Hutch Dano) has put his Michigan university dreams on hold. And Mom’s not told them everything they need to know about fleeing their abusive father (Lew Temple).
But with Mom in line for a promotion, promised by her new boss (veteran character actor Reggie Lee), things have to be looking up, right?
Yeah. Looking “up” from the shower drain, or “up” through the HVAC vents, “in” through the back of every mirror. Something is ALIVE in this house, and Orkin can’t help.
Everybody in the family has visions — nightmares — of what has happened to them and what might happen soon. But it’s not until that boss drops by for dinner that the place makes its malice known. Blood is spilled.
And as much as little Derry (Where’d this woman get her children’s names?) warns everybody about the voices Karrie is conversing with and playing CATCH with — “I’m scared of her new FRIENDS!” — for all the horror the two adults see in glimpses in the mirrors, it’s the abusive husband mother Kathy most fears. And his family.
They just don’t know, until everybody finds out at once.
The Kondelik’s look for frights in scurrying tracking shots (digital) through those air ducts and crawl spaces, in disembodied synthesized voices coming out of the walls — and the mouths of babes.
Visually, it’s an underlit murk of a movie with a sound mix — voices lost behind as assaultive, shrieking score — to match.
The dialogue is unquotably drab, the performances not remotely alarming enough to get by.
Did the Kondeliks look at their footage during editing and realize the flashbacks of the father, the tense visit by his twin (redneck) brother, were the scariest things in the picture?
Probably. But by then they’re already spent money on a cut-rate “creature effects” creator and credit, and it was too late. Those effects, tentacles and claws and a monster stumbling after one and all, hurled at us during the third act, are laughable.
Which is the only involuntary response this would-be thriller can manage.
MPAA Rating: R for horror violence and some language
Cast: Vanessa Angel, Reggie Lee, Hutch Dano, Lew Temple, Taylor Autumn Bertman, Mason Mahay
Running time: 1:31