On the run from an abusive partner, Alice (Portia Chellelynn) takes an attic room in a strange house in order to continue her studies at Miskatonic University into alternate dimensions, and how they relate to geometry and architecture. Unfortunately for Alice, the house she has taken refuge in has a dark and disturbing past, and she is soon beset by horrific nightmares and visions.
Loosely based upon H. P. Lovecraft’s Dreams in the Witch House director Bobby Easley has, in part, successfully recreated the strange and bizarre imagery prevalent in the original text. Trippy, nausea-inducing scenes of witchy behaviour combine with an oppressive atmosphere to unsettle the viewer.
And yet you sense Easley doesn’t really have full confidence in the source material. Rather than trusting in the inherent strangeness, in retaining confidence that the text will support itself he has added elements that feel both indulgent and unnecessary. A rather odd lesbian encounter between Alice – whose recent abuse at the hands of her partner resulted in a miscarriage – and her new housemate Tommi (Julie Anne Prescott) adds nothing to the narrative, following which Easley takes every opportunity to show and linger on female flesh. It feels seedy, and you sense Lovecraft would be unlikely to approve. While peripheral characters, though bearing some similarity to those in the original story, are given a sideshow makeover rendering them faintly comedic.
As far as Lovecraftian adaptations go Witch House is a perfectly acceptable, if rather uninspiring addition. But in attempting to fill out the runtime Easley has lost sight of what really makes this story an intriguing and ultimately horrific one.H.P. Lovecraft's WItch House is out now in the US