House of Sin (2011)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2011-02-15 02:38

Written and Directed by: Phillip Gardiner
Starring: John Symes, Nik Spencer and Sarah Dunn

Reviewed by: Brett G.

ďWhy are we so self-destructive?Ē

Now thatís a good question indeed (and perhaps the only interesting thing raised by this film): why do people do the weird shit that they do (like willingly sit through terrible movies, perhaps)? Sometimes, the most deranged place is just the normal human mind, beset with all its hidden demons that can often be repressed; I guess itís kind of convenient, however, if you have an outlet for those demons in an appropriately named House of Sin. Apparently, this is the place you go if you have any vice that just canít be hidden anymore, and I suppose it can be a terrifying place, especially when itís the subject of a poorly-made film.

The titular house is indeed one of ill repute, full of sexual deviants: cross-dressers, sadists, masochists, etc. Itís all run by some creepy guy known only as ďThe Mage,Ē who may or may not be some kind of sorcerer. Anyone who enters the place is transfixed by its sordidness, including our protagonist and narrator, who is soon drawn in by its lurid charms (which includes but is not limited to lesbian sex and BDSM games).

Youíve probably seen reviewers attack films for not having a plot, and itís surely hyperbole. Well, in the case of House of Sin, the plot is about as solid as a house of cards. That is to say, there really isnít one--instead, the film can best be described a series of vignettes scored by some awful music (everything from R&B and nu-metal is represented). Said vignettes involve girls grinding against each other (or just themselves) in some sequences that look like outtakes from a bad softcore movie (are there any good ones?) youíd see on late night Showtime. Iím not exaggerating when I say watching this is the equivalent of just watching a bunch of terrible music videos in succession--in fact, youíd probably be able to make a more coherent narrative thread out of the latter. Sure, thereís a smattering of conflict here and there between ďThe MageĒ and random patrons (a highlight is a pitiful fight where the actors are throwing softer punches than the Honky Tonk Man), but it doesn't add up to anything.

Suffice to say, this is an incoherent mess of a flick with no real characters. Instead, itís just pure sexploitation, existing only as an excuse to get girls to take their clothes off for the camera; now, we are the last place to be judgmental about this, but such shenanigans donít warrant a 30 minute short film, much less one that runs for 80 minutes like this one. Whereís the horror in it all? Well, itíd be easy to say that the sheer lack of quality is horrifying enough, and itís hard not to take that shot (which I guess I just did--sue me--itís like shooting fish in a barrel). Additionally, I suppose all the aberrant sexual behavior is meant to shock, but it really wonít--whips and chains are about as hardcore as it gets for this one. Thereís also some completely unsubtle musings about the dangers of obsession and the dark places it can take you, but this is just lip service, delivered in the form of clichť-ridden monologues that give the impression that this movie has something going on upstairs.

It doesnít, of course; in fact, it even feels like the film-makers didnít bother to come up with a proper ending. Then again, the beginning and middle arenít exactly well-thought out either. At any rate, I can say that Chemical Burn Entertainment has treated it better than it deserves with a fairly nice DVD presentation. The anamorphic widescreen transfer is practically flawless, and the soundtrack is nice and clear, though Iím not sure thatís a great thing considering the awful music that will blare through your speakers if you dare to enter the House of Sin. I shouldnít have to spell it out for you, but even the most masochistic cinema viewers shouldnít even dare do that. This is one house that should be condemned. Trash it!

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