Screams echoing off the walls of a Halloween fun house are nothing out of the ordinary, but in Gavin Michael Booth’s The Scarehouse, those screams are the doing of a couple of friends out for revenge. In this unique slasher, Booth brings both energy and mayhem to a narrative that twists and turns for 90 minutes, delivering a unique slice of indie horror.
Set almost entirely within the walls of a haunted house, The Scarehouse takes its somewhat ridiculous setup and turns it into a blood-soaked night of revenge for its two evil-minded characters, Corey and Elaina. While there’s no doubt a more complex story buried under all the carnage—one that isn’t quite explored to its fullest—the film’s main focus is on tearing shit up first, asking questions later. In doing so, Booth powers through the narrative by delivering one kill after another, only taking a break to reveal key elements of the story. It’s a tactic that mostly works despite getting tripped up by the occasional flashback.
Where it really hits its stride, though, is with its two main characters in Corey and Elaina. Played by Sarah Booth and Kimberly-Sue Murray, these two are the entire pulse of the film. Both are fantastic in their sadistic, revenge-fueled personas as they plan an entire night around torturing their former sorority sisters in sick and twisted ways. What’s interesting, though, is that at times you can tell they’re struggling with their new found power. There are moments in the film where they’re genuinely surprised at just how messed up things get; it’s kind of awesome, really, and I love seeing that personal battle. Eventually, though—as with most killers—they accept their evil roots and embrace it to the fullest. That’s where it gets fun because instead of tip-toeing around the line of what’s right and what’s wrong, the girls decide they want to see blood, and lots of it.
Once the torture begins, the film allows its gore and practical effects to shine, even under the constraints of a low budget. And that’s what I found to be very impressive about The Scarehouse; it never steps outside of its boundaries and unnecessarily cheeses up the final product—sometimes less is more and that’s exactly what we get with this one. With a Halloween fun house serving as the backdrop, it becomes the perfect canvas for Corey and Elaina to paint their bloody picture.
But as great as these two were, they had one major flaw and it was their motivation behind torturing these girls. They’re upset, and rightfully so, but spending a couple of years in jail for something they actually deserved to go to jail for isn’t exactly a reason to go on a killing spree. The thing is, Corey and Elaina are obviously crazy (you would have to be in order to do what they’re doing), but the film never delves into that realm and explains why, or how, they got to be so messed up. I just didn’t buy it. Had we been given a better motivating factor behind Corey and Elaina’s night of torture, it would have been much easier to settle into their psychotic mindset.
Beyond that, however, The Scarehouse is a treat to horror fans, one that is every bit as demented as its characters. With fast-paced blood-splattered thrills and a couple of the meanest chicks you’re likely to come across this year, The Scarehouse digs its claws in and never lets go. If you think watching a couple of gorgeous stab-happy girls torture other gorgeous girls sounds like a good time, then you’re certainly going to have fun with this one.