Director: Kevin Connor
Remembering the American version of The Grudge, and stories about Americans moving into creepy Japanese homes, I had high hopes for this one. Sadly, it did not live up to the expectations that The Grudge set in my mind. The House Where Evil Dwells is about a nice American family moving to Japan so that the husband, Ted, can write a book about Japanese folklore. Their good friend Alex helps them get settled, but not before telling them that their new house is supposedly haunted. The Monk from across the street tells Ted the house's story, and it is just as you would expect: a cheating wife is caught; she and her lover are killed by her angry husband. It's so typical for ghost stories, and I find myself wondering just why in the hell no one can come up with anything different. So Ted, Mrs. Ted, and their daughter Amy start seeing strange things in their house. Things like bowls being knocked over, things flying off of walls, and the lights going off by themselves. Amy even sees a man's face in her soup, growling like a retarded zombie. But these ghosts don't try to hide themselves as most do (and most should). They're painfully obvious, and I didn't care for that. I like my ghost stories just a little bit more subtle.
The monk tells them that there are evil spirits dwelling in their home, but just how evil are the spirits? Personally, they seem more like pranksters than evil ghosts to me. They enjoy causing mayhem in the house, yes, but they don't cause any actual harm themselves. What they do is possess people and force them to do things they wouldn't normally do. Their main focus is on Mrs. Ted. The lady-ghost--Otami, I think her name was--possesses Mrs. Ted and makes her all but tell her husband she wants to jump Alex's bones. And then Otami makes her do just that. She begins an affair with her husband's best friend, calling him every time Ted leaves the house.
When Ted almost drowns out in the lake, Mrs. Ted goes to his aid, leaving Amy home alone with a babysitter. In the middle of the night, Amy and Babysitter are attacked by giant talking crabs. Yes, giant fucking crabs. That can talk. In a desperate attempt to flee the evil crustaceans, Amy climbs a tree--and falls back down to the ground. At this point, Ted and Mrs. Ted are pretty freaked out, so they send Amy back to America to stay with her grandparents until Ted's finished with his writing. A week or so passes and, after having the monk run the ghosts off, Mrs. Ted decides to come clean about her affair. At the exact moment she spills her guts, Alex comes knocking on the door. Ted opens the door (after the monk told him not to, lest he let the spirits back in) to face his newfound nemesis. He does, in fact, let the spirits back in, and they possess all three of them.
They force the men to have a pretty epic battle (and by epic, I mean stupid), which doesn't end well for anyone involved. So I guess the lesson to be learned from this one is that not all ghosts want to kill you; some just want to tear your family apart. For shits and giggles, I guess. Maybe they didn't want anyone new living in their home. I'm not sure, because it didn't really get into all that. But the stupidity of the story really isn't the worst part. I can deal with stupid movies, trust me. In fact, in a lot of cases, I friggin' love 'em. This could have worked, but sadly it didn't. Where it failed was simply in the entertainment department. There was nothing interesting here. The characters were dull, the acting wasn't all that great. The story could have been at least a little bit interesting, but the way it was executed made it painfully boring. The one thing I did like was a set of masks that Mrs. Ted bought at the market in town. They were beautiful, and just a little bit frightening. I'd like some of those masks, but I'll pass on this movie.