‘Evil has a new home’
The Last House on Cemetery Lane is a 2015 British horror film written, produced and directed by Andrew Jones (The Amityville Asylum; The Midnight Horror Show; Robert the Doll).
The North Bank Entertainment production stars Lee Bane, Vivien Bridson, Georgina Blackledge, Tessa Wood, Ian Grey, Ian Smyth, Kelly Jones.
Screenwriter John Davies has grown tired of living in London and moves to an old manor house in a sleepy West Wales village to get out of the rat race.
At first, he enjoys himself, embracing the quieter pace of life and starting a relationship with his beautiful neighbour Cassie Konrad. But strange, unexplained occurrences begin to occur in the manor house. John discovers he is surrounded by a supernatural presence and begins to research the house’s past, discovering secrets more terrible than he ever imagined…
Usually, I like to think that I can find something to love about any horror film but occasionally, I watch one that is so ineptly produced and so devoid of both horror and subtext that even I have to admit that it’s just not a very good film.
Case in point: The Last House on Cemetery Lane. I actually had high hopes for the film, based on the title alone. The title, of course, reminded me of such classic horror thrillers as Last House on the Left, The House on the Edge of the Park, The House at the End of the Street, Last House on Dead End Street, and The House By the Cemetery. These are all films that have their strengths and weaknesses but the main thing that they have in common is that years and, in some cases, decades after first being released, they still carry the power to either scare or disturb. The Last House on Cemetery Lane does neither.
In fact, the title itself doesn’t really work because, as far as I can tell, the house is not actually located on cemetery lane. And it’s not exactly the last house on its street either. If anything, it appears to be the only house on its street. To be honest, I can’t even remember if there’s a cemetery located anywhere near the house and, quite frankly, I’m not going to force myself sit through this film for a second time just to find out.
The Last House on Cemetery Lane tells a familiar story. Screenwriter John (who is played by Lee Bane and, giving credit where credit is due, Bane actually gives a pretty good performance) needs to write a script and he needs to get away from the distractions of London. So, he rents a house in Wales. As he views the house, his real estate agent (played by Tessa Wood) informs him that there’s a blind old woman named Agnes who lives up in the attic but he won’t have to worry about her because he’ll never see her.
Needless to say, John isn’t thrilled about that idea but, after a minute or two of considering it, he decides that he can handle living in a house with creepy old Agnes up in the attic. Really?
Okay, John is a screenwriter so I’m going to assume that he’s seen a movie before. Doesn’t he know that any time you’re told that there’s a creepy old woman living in the attic that means that something bad is going to happen?
Anyway, John moves into the manor and then he spends a few hours wandering around the nearby village and walking on the beach. He finds a bottle washed up on the beach. In the bottle, there’s a piece of paper that reads “Message.” John laughs and throws the bottle back out into the ocean. And the movie goes on like that for a while. As a veteran movie watcher, I kept expecting the bottle to show back up but it never did. Apparently, that whole thing with the bottle was just included to pad out the film’s running time.
The Last House on Cemetery Lane is literally one of the slowest films that I have ever watched. The deliberate pace may have been intended to work as an atmosphere builder but no … this film has no atmosphere. It’s just kind of there.
Anyway, eventually, some things start to happen. It’s all the usual haunted house crap. Things go bump in the night. Music keeps playing. John meets a mysterious woman (Georgina Blackledge) who has secrets of her own. John runs around the house and demands to know who is haunting it. He talks to the mysterious woman. He knocks on Agnes’s door. Things go bump. Music plays. John talks to the mysterious woman. John knocks on Agnes’s door.John runs around the house and demands to know who is haunting it. He talks to the… Bleh!
Okay, so you might be getting the idea that not much happens in Last House on Cemetery Lane. And you would be right. What kills the film is that it ultimately becomes so repetitive. There’s only so many times that you can listen to John bitch about living in a haunted house before you just say, “Then move, you jerk!” Ironically, the film probably would have worked just fine if it has just been a fifteen-minute short. But stretching material this thin out, well, it just doesn’t work.
I love horror films but The Last House on Cemetery Lane is one to avoid.
Lisa Marie Bowman, guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens
“The acting is subdued to the point that I started to think the cast was mixing sleeping pills with wine before going on set. There are no scares, no laughs, no entertainment. By the end of this one, you’ll want to grab Lee Bane by his hipster beard and throw him out the attic window.” Caggiano’s Corner
“Andrew Jones delivers a haunted house film that is slow going – about the most spooky it ever gets for a large chunk of the running time is a record player that keeps turning itself on late at night. About three-quarters of the way through, Jones does deliver an eerie scene where Lee Bane conducts a seance with an ouija board. This is followed by an unexpected twist…” Moria
“Jones throws every incongruous freaky thing he can think of into the film, including impromptu dentistry and the word MURDER written on a mirror in blood; I could forgive him for not explaining all these things, but he doesn’t even bother making them all feel like they belong in the same movie.” The Nightmare Gallery
“The acting is decent with a small cast of relatively unknown actors, the storyline worked (even with some clichéd moments), and the soundtrack fit the storyline. Yes, there were some questionable cinematic moments with the camerawork, the pacing was slow, and some of the effects were a touch uneven, but those elements did not totally ruin this film.” The Ringmaster’s Realm
“This is a slow mover despite its relatively lean (seventy-eight minute) running time, and unfortunately never quite cranks the tension up to the level that you’d hope for. That said, Jones’ technical prowess is an aspect that continues to impress; with an established shooting style, atmospheric lighting and a score which succeeds in crafting a degree of unease, there’s a lot to like here.” The Schlock Pit
“If there’s one saving grace in The Last House on Cemetery Lane, it’s the acting. The cast Jones assembled have the chops to pull off the horror elements but the only problem is that they’re not given anything worthwhile to work with. They do their best to squeeze whatever they can from the material but as it’s very thin to begin with, there’s really not much they can do overall.” This Old Haunted House
” …literally everything on offer here is just plain bad, from the acting to the story to the cinematography to the not-so-special effects. All that we see here literally screams “been there, done that, and it was better the first 50 times.” I’m trying really hard here to think about something I liked about this movie just to avoid “piling on,” but ya know what? It ain’t happening, struggle as I might.” Trash Film Guru
Mrs Connelly, letting agent: “All that blood and violence isn’t my cup of tea.”