ByDrew Grimm Van Ess, writer at
Horror aficionado/nerd. Follow my blog for film reviews, book reviews, and interviews.
Drew Grimm Van Ess

The all-star cast of Bill Moseley, Leslie Easterbrook, and Allan Kayser isn't enough to redeem this movie about a home invasion that takes a Satanic turn. Director Devon Mikolas has only one previous directorial effort, and it's a short called Salvation by Blood. To his defense, I can't say that House of the Witchdoctor is just poorly shot, because it lacks a lot of everything and comes off like no one involved wanted to bring their A game to this project.

With Bill Moseley and Leslie Easterbrook involved, I expected a more gratifying experience. I mean, these two have become horror icons amongst fans due to their quantity of horror movie involvement, and because of the roles they play that have become famous. You know Bill Moseley primarily from his work in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 as 'Chop-Top', and Otis from Rob Zombie's cult classic's House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. Actress Leslie Easterbrook is known for her role as Mother Firefly in The Devil's Rejects along side Bill Moseley. Easterbrook is also known for her work in television like Murder, She Wrote and Fantasy Island. And, you all know Allan Kayser as Bubba Higgins on the TV series Mama's Family. Since Mama's Family, Kayser has been hardly involved in the movies and TV business, but he's done a few small projects here and there, mostly within the last few years. Now I can't say that I honestly expected a grand master performance from Kayser, but for Bill Moseley and Leslie Easterbrook to both drop the ball as couple Peter and Irene Van Hooten, puts this films standing in treacherous territory. First of all, they're hardly in it. They're names are simply used front and center on promotions like the poster and DVD/Blu-ray covers to simply gains sales off of their names because they're so well known and respected. They appear in the movie for only moments here and there at the beginning and the end, so the movie was rested on the shoulders of the remaining cast. The problem is, it's carried by people who simply aren't fit for the job. That on top of disappointing performances by the "big names" really puts this movie in shambles. The dialogue and it's deliverance is peculiarly horrendous and really pulled me out of the movie and into a defeated gazing stare at the screen.

The whole concept and storyline are mundane at best. There's a lot of ex-con stereotyping as Cliff (Allan Kayser) spends his first night out of prison getting drugged up and looking for trouble. He Beats up a drug dealer for no reason other than to start trouble, and he physically abuses the dealer's girlfriend on top of raping her and stabbing her. Then we see him and his partner in crime (quite literally) go after a group of young adults who just so happen to be the so-called supporting cast. We see some gore at the end of the movie involving Peter and Irene, but it's mostly done off screen with cheap sound effects to try and build the illusion that they could afford the effect they're attempting to pull off. The decapitation scene towards the movie's conclusion is honestly the worst one I've seen in a very long time. It's just not believable, and it's done very lazily. What FX we do see, like torso skin removed and a human heart removed, are terrible and look like glorified props that you can buy at the local Jokes R Wild store. The worst part about it all is that there isn't even a payoff at the end. There's no plot twist, or some sort of really cool special effect, or anything that vindicates watching it.

The thing that killed this movie's potential, equaled with the acting, is how expected everything is. We've seen movies of this caliber done better, like House of the Devil, Kill List, and Malevolence. All of which start off as one kind of flick, and take a drastic turn (via some killer plot twist) and totally transition into another. And it's totally cliche too. Like when a call gets made to the police about there being two rapists and murderers tormenting the house guests, only one cop by his lonely self shows up to access the situation. Yeah, that's realistic, especially nowadays when you'll get two cop cars full of cops on you just for speeding. There's also the old crazy psychic routine we've seen before countless times in which a geriatric person warns the innocent not-yet victims about impeding doom. Just look at Ralph from Friday the 13th for a prime example of what I mean. However, in this case it's an elderly African American woman who's homeless. Either way, she goes ignored and no one heeds her warning, which is also typical. One of these days, I'd really like to see a genre picture where someone actually listens to the advice they are given and avoids the trouble. Only thing is, we wouldn't have a movie if the characters were smart. Maybe that would have been for the better, quite honestly. To top it all off, the satanic crew at the end are adorned in farm clothes and wear sacks on their heads, which again we've seen before. You can count Friday the 13th Part 2, and The Strangers down as two movies that share this idea of sack-headed villains. But there's many more, including The Town that Dreaded Sundown. The whole idea is just so exhausted it bores me just thinking about it.

Tally that up, and you get a whole lot of uneventfulness with a ton of cliches that honestly left me wanting the 90 minutes of my life back that I wasted watching it. There's no reason I can think of that could possibly make me ever view this again. I can only hope that Bill Moseley and Leslie Easterbrook either pick better projects to be a part of, or give more of themselves in the future. Just having a semi-household name isn't enough to keep a career in good stature, you do actually have to put forth some sort of effort. And as they say, you're only as good as what you've done lately.



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