Director: Aaron Keeling, Austin Keeling
Writers: Aaron Keeling, Austin Keeling, Natalie Jones
Stars: Emily Goss, Taylor Bottles, Cathy Barnett, Jim Korinke
In the current paranormal film climate, audiences expect to be (jump) scared early and often with scant regard for building a story, in fact it is embarrassing that I have to say that The House On Pine Street takes a big risk by making the film a very slow burner but these are the times we are living in.
Seven month pregnant Jennifer (Goss) and her husband Luke (Bottles) move to her home town in Kansas for a short stay to have their baby after Jennifer has had an (alluded to) breakdown. Jennifer has a very strained relationship with her over bearing mother and Jennifer isn't real keen on the whole pregnancy either. As the old house they are staying in begins to creak and groan and open doors, Jennifer fears the house is haunted.
The House on Pine Street is very well and painstakingly shot, giving the audience every amount of detail possible with each new piece of scenery. Cinematographer Juan Sebastian Baron frames the film beautifully, managing to draw all he can from the 99% indoor shots. Directors Aaron and Austin Keeling go for an almost black & white, old school movie haunting technique, with sound and lights (or shadows) primarily being used, of course there are a few obligatory poltergeist style dragging of furniture (and humans). It is used to good effect with some genuine chill down your back moments.
Emily Goss is just flat out great as the conflicted Jennifer switching from meek and mild to crazy and wild seamlessly, all of her reactions seem true to her character and it makes the film all the better for it. Bottles plays Luke with a soft edge that gets harder as the film goes along and Barnett makes you flinch at every mother knows best facial expression.
In my opening few sentences I said it was a risk for the film to be a slow burner and for the most part it works, however I'm going to go slightly against what I said and suggest that cutting twenty minutes from the film would help things skip along to create a touch more tension. After every tense moment we were treated to a quiet moment which is fine but unfortunately it was almost too long between the tense, creepy moments and their counter points. The writing is good, however the ending didn't quite pack enough punch from what had come before it, yes its a bleak, even nasty ending but it is a little too understated and the pacing lags a bit, which hurts the climax.
Clearly Aaron and Austin Keelings know what they are doing behind the camera and I do hope they get there chance to show their wares with a bigger budget to play with as I think they could have some real fun with some more resources. The House On Pine Street isn't trying to be the next Paranormal Activity film nor is trying to match the scare quotient of The Conjuring. It is it's own film, happy to take its time getting to where it wants to go and going its own way - that is something pretty rare in films today.
Images: IMDb & rhinoshorror.com