“Hill House” is an entertaining and campy film, but it also addresses more serious issues such as manipulation and guile. The film was written and directed by senior Ciaran Stone and stars Kyle Clothier, Kiki Possick, Max Heaton, and Morgan Brown, and was screened in Cole Cinema on Feb. 15th and 22nd.
The movie follows a crew of student filmmakers as they travel to film their zombie-infested world and attempt to get footage that will make them famous. The film team is sent to a house on a hill where they encounter flesh-hungry zombies, all the while dealing with internal group conflict. Disagreements result in their endangerment. Rash decisions in zombie films do not lead to positive results.
The plot in “Hill House” feels reanimated: it is a plot about college kids messing up when dealing with a dangerous zombie apocalypse. The dialogue is a little stiff too, but lends itself well to the campy-ness of the film. There are a few drawn-out scenes, when it seems as if there should be some sort of action. In one scene, the film crew is standing while the doors to the house are swinging open and closed. It did create tension at first, but it soon became monotonous without any further action. The scene could have been shot with fewer shots of the swinging doors. Also, later in the movie when the main character gets ripped in half the same thing happens – it gets repetitive. The basic understanding that he is in a lot of pain comes across in the first few shots of him getting mauled, and after that the shock factor wears off.
The characters could have used a little more emotion, especially when friends died or when they were trying to escape. The amount of fear and hysteria was not necessarily consistent with the situations. There was more emotion in arguing about picking up camera equipment than there was about seeing a best friend get ripped in half. Which is a shame, because the gore and blood were very well done. When a neck was gnawed upon or when muscle was masticated, it was gross. It seemed very realistic and there was a lot of attention to detail. The death scenes: shootings, chewings, and rippings were easily nausea-inducing and certainly made the audience uncomfortable.
The soundtrack, recorded by alumni Trevor Shipley and junior Rich Kolm, also fit the film’s gritty feel. The low-fi electric guitar and bass did a nice job setting the mood of inescapable, impending, brain-chewing doom.
This production did not shy away from exploring more serious moral ambiguities or exploitation issues that were interwoven throughout. For example, when would it be okay to sacrifice another human being? What does or should it cost to promote yourself? How far are you willing to go to get what you want? “Hill House” asked the audience these tough questions, but didn’t give answers. It showed what the characters in the film did, mainly using others for their own benefit, but that didn’t turn our too well for any of them. In an interview with Stone, he said the movie has a “fairly moral tone…definitely a lot to say about people who take advantage of each other.”
Overall, the movie was entertaining, gruesomely gory, and thought- provoking.