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Don’t Go In The House

Don’t Go In The House

By Patrick Samuel • July 30th, 2014
Static Mass Rating: 2/5
Turbine Films

Original release: March 28th, 1980
Running time: 82 minutes

Director: Joseph Ellison
Writers: Joseph Ellison, Ellen Hammill, Joseph R. Masefield

Cast: Dan Grimaldi, Johanna Brushay, Robert Osth

Don’t Go In The House

We’ve all seen one at some point, perhaps perched on a hilltop, or at the end of the road. Maybe you’ve seen one across the park or overlooking the cemetery? Wherever we find them, it feels like they’re watching us and we walk past hurriedly, trying not to think about what goes on inside. Even with their boarded up windows and falling down roofs, it’s not really these ghostly, soulless houses we should be afraid of. It’s the men that live inside. Take Donny Kohler (Dan Grimaldi) for example. He’s the kind of man who’ll stand by and watch a co-worker burn after an accident at the incinerator where they work.

Donny’s mesmerised by the flames and harbours an obsession with fire that stems from his childhood. His mother would hold his bare arms over a fire whenever he did something wicked. She feared he would grow up to be like his father, like all men, and she wanted to burn the wickedness out of him. The accident at the incinerator, combined with his wicked mother’s passing creates a psychotic break in Donny’s mind. He’s already a deeply disturbed individual; he hears voices and is paranoid about everything around him, but now with his mother gone he can do anything he wants – he can be the king in his castle.

Don’t Go In The House

He builds in his own incinerator in the house and sets out to punish any woman who might resemble his mother. First there’s the florist, Kathy (Johanna Brushay), whom he tricks into giving a lift and then takes her to his house to say hello to “mother”. He knocks her out and when she wakes she finds herself hanging by chains in a steel room as Donny approaches. Armed with a flamethrower and wearing a fire resistant suit, he brings her to a crispy climax.

His only friend is a co-worker, Bobby (Robert Osth), and he has no idea about Donny’s burning obsession and social activities. When he invites him for a night out with a couple of girls, it all goes horrible wrong. One of them holds his arm over a candle – Donny goes insane and sets her on fire. After this little incident, he runs away and is picked up by two girls. He persuades them to come to his house of horrors where keeps the charred remains of his previous victims.

Meanwhile, Bobby begins to realise his friend is just getting started, but instead of calling the cops, he goes to the local priest. Together they try to bring the situation to a peaceful end before Donny has another barbecue. Don’t Go In The Houseto tell us about the effects of child abuse, but by taking its cues directly from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), it feels like nothing less than a rip-off. There’s the decrepit mansion that casts a sense of foreboding, the socially awkward and disturbed son and his dead but ever-present and domineering mother.

However, what it misses is a strong character to really anchor the story and draw us in. While Donny is a menacing character on his own, he lacks the qualities that Anthony Perkins brought to the iconic role of Norman Bates – someone who could carry off charm and trauma in one effortless stroke. Donny is just a loser and while his actions might bring a certain level of horror to the film, there’s nothing to ever release us from those moments and truly entertain us as viewers.

The atmosphere remains tense throughout, and scenes are mostly dark, making the film feel very unsettling. We also get glimpses into Donny’s mind with his nightmares, but there’s never any doubt about how this will end for him. As a result Don’t Go In The House is a film of very little surprises, but a good reminder about why we should never stray from the beaten path, or accept rides from such obvious weirdos.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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