‘Where desire becomes nightmare’
The House of Violent Desire is a 2018 British horror feature film written and directed by Charlie Steeds (A Werewolf in England; The Barge People; Winterskin; Escape from Cannibal Farm).
The Dark Temple Motion Pictures production stars Rowena Bentley, Esme Sears, Barrington De La Roche, Yasmin Ryan, Kate Davies-Speak, Carl Andersson, Daniel McKee, Peter Cosgrove and Joe Street.
In a remote hilltop mansion, a mysterious stranger emerges from a thunderstorm in the night, seeking refuge with the Whipley family; four young adults ruled by their strict religious mother, and their troubled father, who has vanished the previous evening.
But perhaps the ‘stranger’ is more connected to this family and to the dark unknown history of the house than they could ever suspect, and as the visitor begins to cultivate carnal tensions and paranoia within the house, the devilishly naughty history of the Whipley family threatens to lure them deep into its violent madness once again.
Awoken by screams in the night, young Evelyn Whipley (Yasmin Ryan) is found drenched in blood and mysteriously bound to the bed…
The House of Violent Desire begins with a rather silly pseudo-satanic opening, unimpressive by most standards, and diminished even further by the tinny, electronically enhanced canticle provided by Sam Benjafield. Charlie Steeds, who is the auteur here, directs adequately but his script isn’t entertaining enough, and as a producer, he just doesn’t know when to quit.
On the plus side, as a writer, Steeds is obviously drawing on older, tested sources, constructing a seemingly versed English Gothic, similar in tone to, but hardly meeting, James Whale’s The Old Dark House (1932). Thus, Steeds’ script succeeds with its rabble of eccentric, Dickensian characters and derivative plot elements: a foreboding sense of mystery, an itch-inducing groundskeeper (Barrington De La Roche), a caustic Lady of the House (Rowena Bentley), ineffectual upper-class children (Kate Davies-Speak, Yasmin Ryan, and Daniel McKee), something or someone hiding in the attic, a dark figure skulking through shadows accompanied by clicking sounds, and a mysterious stranger arriving during a nighttime thunderstorm.
Unfortunately, this also makes the film seem strangely displaced and antiquated, producing ectopic synesthesia with a prying satirical undertone and a slightly off-kilter, creepy-uncle wink. From that uncomfortable high point, the movie slowly devolves into a carnal melodrama built on Freud’s best-projected fantasies, with large dollops of debauchery, hysterical histrionics, and hints of the forbidden fruit.
At nearly two hours long, The House of Violent Desire is occasionally interesting, rarely intriguing, frequently tedious and, despite the weather-vane plot, mostly annoying. Perhaps why the film was made in the first place can best be summed up by the groundskeeper who, between ominous thunderclaps, says at one point: “A most mysterious occurrence, mam. I haven’t a clue.”
Ben Spurling, MOVIES and MANIA
“It is slightly bloated at around 1 hour 50 minutes, with not everyone’s narrative may be necessary but the story peels away like an onion and there are some unexpected twists which will shock you. The House of Violent Desire offers something different which offers another angle on the haunted house narrative.” Bloody Flicks
” …it’s Bentley who steals the show, much like she did in Winterskin, giving a particularly creepy, almost maniacal performance as the matriarch of the Whipley family who will stop at nothing to protect her kin “for the good of the family”. Nothing. Though the real star of The House of Violent Desire is the house itself, with its dark corridors, gothic atmosphere and moody lighting.” Nerdly
Cast and characters:
Rowena Bentley … Lady Whipley
Esme Sears … Cordetta Crimson Rose
Barrington De La Roche … Sylas Scorpius – Cannibal Farm; Blood Moon
Kate Davies-Speak [as Kate Marie Davies] … Agatha Whipley
Yasmin Ryan … Evelyn Whipley
Daniel McKee … Adriel Whipley
Peter Cosgrove … To be confirmed
Joe Street … Damien DeHaan
Carl Andersson… The Visitor
A 13th-century French chateau.
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