Yes, he’s a legend, and yes, he’s still a damned fine actor, but I have to admit that I cringe a little every time I see a recent film in which Dennis Hopper is the headliner. I’m sorry, but the guy’s been in some absolutely rubbish pictures in the last…oh…two decades, so when I received the DVD of House of 9, I had to admit that I almost threw this one into the “movies to send to McLargehuge for Shame” pile. However, I found myself bored on a Sunday afternoon, recently, and since House of 9 was already out of its shrink-wrap, I tossed it in my DVD player, confidant that I’d be ejecting it within the first ten minutes. An hour and a half later, I was scouring the web looking for high resolution nude photos of co-star Kelly Brook, and also quite happy for having watched this surprisingly good little film.
Nine strangers are randomly nabbed off of the streets of London, and awaken later in a huge, sparsely furnished, highly secured mansion. There’s Jay (Raffaello Degruttola), a tough American police cop; Father Duffy (Hopper), a benevolent priest; Lea (Brook), a shy, innocent dancer; Francis (Girardot), a belligerent French composer, and other assorted stereotypes. The group is welcomed to the mansion by an unseen voice who tells them that they are going to serve as laboratory rats in the ultimate human experiment, and entirely for his amusement. They will be trapped in this house, monitored by dozens of cameras and microphones, until only one man (or woman) is left standing, and that person will walk away with a $5 million dollar prize.
At first, the group try to work together (with a little coaxing by Jay, who still has his gun), but, as food runs short, and they realize that the only ways out of this mansion are either in a body bag or as a murderous millionaire, it soon becomes every man for himself.
House of 9 isn’t a terribly original concept, as this is essentially a marriage of the plots of both “Cube” and “My Little Eye”, but it’s a well-made film with solid performances, a fair amount of surprises, and a fantastic finale. My only real complaint is the complete lack of a sense of time, as it’s not quite clear how long these people are holed up in this place. We see them turn in for the night once, and then we see them gather for a couple of “dinners” (they’re given chicken and potatoes via a dumb-waiter). However, aside from that, there’s nothing to clue us in on the passage of days (or even hours, really), so it’s a bit hard to relate to the characters as they seemingly descend into madness. Heck, three days of chicken and potatoes wouldn’t be enough to get me to kill anyone, especially someone as insanely hot as Kelly Brook.