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Trash House

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Release Date: 
Screen Entertainment
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Pat Higgins
Amber Moelter
Tom Wontner
Richard Collins
Bottom Line: 

The indie filmmaker has quickly exploited the benefits of the DVD format -- realising that, even if you haven't exactly got a cinematic masterpiece to sell, you can still load the disc version with so many extras that it almost feels criminal not to buy it! "Trash House" is not a very good film; a feeble comedy-horror effort where nothing much succeeds -- the gore is uneventful and the attempted comedy, woeful. Afflicted by the curse of many a low budget flick -- a rushed schedule -- and an ambitious but incoherent script (too ambitious for an eleven day shoot anyway!), it falls flat on its shoddy face at every turn. And yet, the forty-five minute behind-the-scenes documentary that is part of the huge bucket-full of extras, crammed on to Screen Entertainment's new UK release, is hugely entertaining! Following Essex filmmaker Pat Higgins and his dedicated band of friends who make up his small crew, as they rush to complete their horror opus (shot on a couple of industrial units in Southend-on-sea) it chronicles the events of each days shoot in minute detail and leaves one with the impression -- by the end -- that this is a decent bunch of people having a great time attempting to make their own comedy-splatter flick. That doesn't mean the results of their efforts are any better, of course; but it does tend to leave this reviewer feeling slightly more sympathetic (in the way I'm "sympathetic" to characters like Ed Wood, though the prospect of actually sitting through one of his films is enough to make one's eyes bleed) to them and their product, than if I hadn't been afforded this glimpse into their world ... I guess they can take some kind of feeling of vindication away with them by that!
The movie starts with a scene whose only purpose seems to be to make the rest of the movie look better than it is by being so bad in comparison. Some kind of secret experiment has gone wrong so Agent Allan (Cy Henty) clears up by shooting the last survivor and starting all over again; this time bringing five, ordinary, "well-balanced" people together at an old place called Fallows House to test a new chip which gives people the power to control their environment -- conjuring up anything their hearts desire out of thin air. Left alone in the old building (which has been locked and sealed) for eight hours, things -- predictably enough -- go wrong when one of the five turns out to be a psychopath who manages to take control of the operating system the chips respond to and gains complete control of the others' minds. Instead of the rather banal fantasies the other four indulge in, the psycho brings forth monsters, zombies and scantily-clad girls with axes who then go about killing-off the rest of the cast amid a welter of very poor gore effects.
Most of the actors do a fairly decent job with this nonsense: good-looking Amber Moelter is particularly strong as the film's slightly odd heroine who uses the chip to transform herself into a '50s sitcom star and eventually goes on a rage-fuelled revenge spree at the end; while Sam Burke is excellent as the feisty girl whom the psycho creates from his memories of a work colleague he used to have an obsession with. Cy Henty dons a convincing Scottish accent for the cynical Agent Allen and Richard Collins is particularly creepy as the psycho who goes under the name of James; Tom Wontner does a fairly convincing Martin Freedman-style, Everyman impersonation (although all he seems to use his chip's powers for is to recreate his grotty front living room) and Hannah Speller is also okay as the younger computer nerd character who sets out to use the chip to find cures for the world's worst diseases. Unfortunately, even the best actors would struggle to make much of the muddled concept, shaky, Spartan sets and just plain weak attempts at splatter (the fake blood looks pink, for God's sake!); and attempts to bring CGI effects to the mix have the unlikely effect of making everything look ten times cheaper! Some added footage of nudity does little to relieve the film's deficiencies since it comes courtesy of an ugly Jodie Marsh look-a-like.
Still, those not put off by all this will find they are richly rewarded with a huge amount of extras on the disc:
A four minute post-production short sees writer, director and producer Pat Higgins about to embark on the project and telling us how lucky we are since, if we're watching this film, then we already know that he has succeeded in getting "Trash House" off the ground ... Lucky is not the word I'd use!
The aforementioned forty-five minute, behind-the-scenes documentary turns out to have more energy than the actual feature, and at least assures us that everybody appeared to have a good time making the film, if nothing else.
Deleted scenes, outtakes, "Al's Blood School" (the film's DP shows you how to make the very bad fake blood utilised in the film) roundup these video extras while Pat Higgins also provides a candid commentary track where he points out all the mistakes and blunders you may have missed on first viewing!
This is one for very committed fans of indie horror only.

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