Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In short: The Haunting of Pearson Place (2013)

Incredibly obnoxious yuppie couple Gwen (Tracy Teague) and Steven (Ken Arnold) have bought up a run-down old house out in the boons to prep it up as a bed and breakfast place, or rather, Gwen bought it and Steven’s supposed to do most of the work because she already provided all the money. Alas, there’s a reason the house came quite as cheap as it did: the realtor’s a weird Joe Estevez thing, the country people around it are crazy, and oh, there was a murder in the house some time ago – after the time when it was used as a Soldiers’ Home for victims of the first World War, with all the suffering that entailed. Consequently, the house is as haunted as all get out, and it doesn’t take long until Gwen and Steven encounter all sorts of bizarre stuff: the realtor just pops up at the most curious times and places saying meaningful things, a couple of female ghosts get rude, and there’s never a quiet moment in the house.

Things come to a head when Gwen’s best friend Katherine (Julie Price) and her husband Michael (Regen Wilson), who is even more obnoxious than the other human characters, come to help with the renovation: ghosts get nude, hands get grabby, and Jim Shoemaker “from the County” wants to kill two birds with one stone. Two birds; one stone.

One thing I have been missing in the age of indie horror is the propensity of old local horror movies to just be plain, freakishly peculiar. Michael Merino’s The Haunting of Pearson Place jumps into this particular breach with exhilarating enthusiasm. The resulting film isn’t the least bit creepy, spooky, or whatever else you might expect from your haunted house films, but its very peculiar and curiously specific weirdness make up for that little problem with no troubles at all.

Well, at least if you’re like me and love to puzzle out if any given scene is actually meant to be funny, or just becomes funny through the combination of – I might have used that word to describe them before – obnoxiously bickering characters, dialogue that’s always a little (and sometimes very) off, and line deliveries that often leave one staring at the screen with a mixture of puzzlement and delight. For most of the running time, I had no problem understanding what was going on on screen but was utterly unable to explain why The Haunting of Pearson Place was going about showing what’s going on in this highly strange manner. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

No comments: