Going into director Juliane Block’s new undead haunted house pic, The Curse Of Hobbes House, you would never guess that the film stood in part as an allegory for something more prevalent in the news these last few years. It’s certainly the mark of a formidable director – to be able to produce an escapist narrative genre piece with an underlying message that’s less obvious than suggestive.
First and foremost, of course, comes how to establish the general framework and get the pace going. The first ten minutes embark on an animated prologue highlighting an ancient war between kings, one whose seizure of an old witcher’s house brings about a curse that lasts for generations. Fast forward to the present day and a week following a tragic plot twist that later introduces Jane (Mhairi Calvey), homeless and newly fired from her job, who gets summoned by a solicitor to arrive to the home of her late Aunt Alexandra (Emma Spurgin Hussey), where she’s unpleasantly reunited with her more wealthier, social media-popular sister, Jennifer (Mackenna Guyler), joined by her adroit, albeit smug and conniving boyfriend, Nigel (Kevin Leslie).
Drama ensues much to the chagrin of the family’s solicitor, Eurydice (Jo Price) as she attempts to read the Will. With the group fractured, the first death occurs in the house, causing a mysterious raft of events forcing Alexandra’s entrusted groundskeeper, Naser (Waleed Elgadi), to mitigate the upheaval, and even then, the imminent fear and danger surrounding them turns into dismissal and distraction, surmounted by every inconvenience in the book that prevents them from leaving the house.
The only one fully aware of the reason why is Naser, whose possession of a book on the house’s written history elucidates what the clear circumstances are for the current guests as an army of blood-freezing zombies arise from their graves and descent unto the home. What then remains to be seen not only encompasses whether or not everyone thusfar will make it out alive, however; With personal motivations and agendas at stake, it’ll be further up to Jane and Jennifer to try to put aside her differences and uncover the mystery behind the house that could lead to their survival during any and all strategizing.
Block is usually pretty nimble in her capability to produce low budget independent films as she does here with The Curse Of Hobbes House. The film does get stifled by some of the usual hapless tropes that often prove problematic for contained storytelling, partly including overlong dialogue moments and footchases that try to compensate for a mild lack of intensity or consistency in terms of action. What best carries the film among its plusses, are the overall performances by the cast and the dramatic upheaval between Jane and Jennifer as things come to a head, topped by Nigel doing exactly the kind of thing you would expect his character to do in a film where characters are cornerned into all-or-nothing survival.
The zombies in The Curse Of Hobbes House are of a different breed here too, where their eyes glow into a bright blue and phsyical contactsm causes their victim to turn cold and begin freezing. Whatever your speed is when it comes to zombies and zombie lore, it’s a pretty cool add-on that lends just a little more scope to the fantasy, and it’s also interesting that these zombies also play a different role from a more interpretive standpoint.
Remarkably, this film also comes from an angle for Block to attribute some prevalent social commentary, and you would never know that unless you saw this featurette. It’s quite the mark of a good filmmaker – to be able to produce escapist thrills with a message that bodes as suggestive in its fantastical state. The same goes for how any of this applies to the viewer in their enjoyment, though at any rate, The Curse Of Hobbes House, save any camp or preferences to one’s own taste for indie horror, bodes as a serviceable supernatural thriller with heroines you can get behind, villains easy to despise, and an ample dose of gore to whet your zombie appetite.