Ah, The Asylum. They never cease to surprise me. Whenever I dive into one of their movies I’m never sure what I’m going to be in for. There’s a near constant back-and-forth between good cheesy fun, and high levels of boredom and out-loud groans. The paranoia of another possible bad experience followed me into the movie like a loyal dog at my side. But enough banter, let’s get into The Haunting of Whaley House, shall we?
Penny Abbot is a med school student who lucked into a job as a tour guide of the Whaley House, which is reputed to be one of the most haunted houses in America (and apparently a real house that’s also reputed to be haunted). During a hangout with her boyfriend and three other friends in a cemetery (look for a cameo from yours truly. Ok, I’m kidding about that) one of Penny’s friend’s Craig suggests they all have a late-night personal tour of the house. Penny refuses at first, but after a little persuading she relents and later that night they go.
Craig invites his friend Ray, who shows up minutes after the rest of the group bearing a few of your standard tools of the ghost hunter trade, as well as the “famous psychic” Keith Drummond, who is also very interested in exploring the house. In short time the usual attempts to communicate with the spirits are made, with success. But when one of the friends is pushed down a flight of stairs and killed, it’s just the beginning of the nightmare for the rest. Not only did they lose a friend, they find out they’re trapped in the house with a house full of spirits. Can Penny’s knowledge of the house and its former inhabitants help save those who are left? Can Drummond’s psychic abilities protect the group and get them out of the house? Do I even really care? Well, I won’t answer all those questions and spoil things. But I will tell you, things certainly get worse before they get better.
As I’ve already said, when it comes to The Asylum I have good times and bad times. So to be safe I like to keep my expectations quite low. But I must admit, I enjoyed this movie more than I expected. This was not a masterpiece by any means. It wasn’t all that original either. But I’ve definitely had fun watching.
To begin, the acting was……ok. No Oscar performances here, but considering the lines of dialogue they had to speak, I can’t really hate on the cast given what they had to work with. It’s still a cut above many of the other Asylum features (although Bill Oberst Jr. in Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies is still the champ currently). A lot of the dialogue was outright awful. BUT, a lot of said dialogue was still damn enjoyable in its awfulness. I found myself chuckling more than once at some of the things said. I’d give examples, but the thing is that it’s not just the lines themselves that were hilarious, but it was also the delivery of the lines. Just typing them here doesn’t give it justice. You’ll just have to watch the movie and hear them 😉
The movie overall isn’t all that scary, but there are a couple of scenes that I found surprisingly effective. For example, one of the friends (played by Arielle Brachfeld) was temporarily possessed by a spirit. And as I tend to visualize myself in those kinds of situations, I decided I would be pretty freaked out were I actually there witnessing it. I read about someone criticizing the contacts Arielle wore for that scene, but I thought they looked great. They seemed slightly like the eyes of someone who’s been dead for a while and left out in the elements to decay. But hey, that’s just me.
This leads into the makeup and special effects. I had no real complaints about the makeup overall. The ghosts looked ghostlike, and any injuries sustained by the cast looked real enough (with one or two possible exceptions). I think what I noticed the most was that this movie didn’t rely on its usual amount of CGI as in most other Asylum movies. There was CGI used here and there, but for the most part it just wasn’t needed, which was a welcome change of pace.
If you have an hour and a half to kill one night, and some popcorn to spare, I recommend you at least give The Haunting of Whaley House a shot. It’s on Netflix right now, and despite the negatives (and the low rating I’m about to give it), I still got entertainment value out of this one. And sometimes, we just need to shut our brain off and enjoy a movie like this. It’s good for us. Until next time.
Macabre Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Tombstones