An Average Movie-Goer’s Review
Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post
I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.
Today we’re looking at a modern reimagining of Dracula, 2022’s House of Darkness
After driving a stranger (Kate Bosworth) home from the bar, Hap (Justin Long) discovers she lives in a large isolated castle that may be more dangerous than it seems
Is House of Darkness (2022) Scary?
Nah, House of Darkness is a definite slow burn and there are almost no scary scenes or anything that will frighten anyone. The ending does get a bit gory but you’ll see it coming a mile away.
The film opens with opening credits over a shot of a pile of shoes in the center of a very large cave. Title screen and cut to red text reading “Once Upon a Time”.
A car drives through a gate in what looks like a secluded area and we meet our main characters Hap (played by Justin Long) and Mina (played by Kate Bosworth) coming back from what appears to be a date.
We quickly learn that the two just met at a bar and hit it off leading to Hap driving Mina home. Hap hears something in the distance but Mina asserts that there was nothing there. Hap then offers to walk Mina to her door but she instead invites him in. As they walk, Hap compliments Mina for being so forward in this day and age and then notices Mina lives in a gigantic castle.
Hap stumbles through some awkward conversation as he’s really fixated on not insulting Mina by saying the wrong thing. Luckily for him, Mina doesn’t seem to be taking him too seriously and playfully calls him out on some of his comments. The two head inside where the power goes out immediately and Mina claims it’s nothing to worry about as it happens all the time.
As Mina lights the fireplace, Hap thinks he sees a woman standing at the end of the hall. There totally is someone there but when he looks again she’s gone which is something Hap should also be doing. Though Hap mentions to Mina he saw something, Mina plays it off and says the house is full of memories so sometimes she sees things as well; this is not a good excuse.
After another awkward conversation about how Hap is sometimes a liar, Mina offers to get them some drinks and before she leaves, we learn her family has multiple estates around the country. With Hap alone in the room, he calls his friend and taunts him for not being the one who left the bar with someone. Hap is sure he’s going to get laid and tells his friend he’ll give him the play-by-play the next day but refuses to send him pictures so, at least he’s not a total dick.
Mina returns with the drinks and after a kiss, Hap awkwardly lies about being on the phone but then tells the truth. Mina is suspicious of the story and asks if Hap is married, turns out he’s legally separated. By the way, it feels like Hap has never had a conversation with a woman without sounding nervous, awkward, or sounding like he’s obviously trying to cover up a lie.
Mina doesn’t seem bothered by the fact Hap is separated or by his lies and the two continue to talk and flirt. During a kiss, Mina accidentally bites Hap’s lip causing him to bleed a little but this doesn’t ring the “vampire” alarm in Hap’s head.
As the two kiss, Hap hears a door open in the distance and the sounds of someone walking around. Hap freaks out and realizes he doesn’t even know Mina’s name. What the hell? She tells him it’s Mina and Hap doesn’t see the big red flags with the words “Run” waving in his face.
Mina says she doesn’t know Hap’s name either and Hap says it’s Hapgood, an old family name going back centuries. Mina then responds that she’s known a few Hapgoods in her time which if that isn’t a hint that she’s lived hundreds of years then I don’t know what is. The two continue to talk and flirt with Mina taking the lead.
Pinning him to the chair, Mina unbuckles Hap’s pants and kneels down between his legs. Before anything can happen, Mina’s sister Lucy (played by Gia Crovatin) appears and startles Hap.
Hap apologizes and decides to leave but Mina begs him to stay for another drink. Lucy offers to have a drink with them if it’ll make him more comfortable and Hap agrees. As Mina leaves to get the drinks, the power turns back on while Hap stumbles through conversations with Lucy.
Lucy leaves to check on Mina and Hap drinks the rest of Mina’s drink causing him to immediately fall asleep on the couch. Moments later, Hap wakes up in a cave, has a black eye, and is tied to a chair. After struggling a bit, Hap breaks free from the chair but not before seeing a woman watching him in the distance, though she disappears moments later.
Hap wanders around the huge cave structure eventually passing by a rusted decades-old car and a pile of shoes.
Finding a hole leading to the outside in the ceiling and a pile of rocks under it, Hap attempts to climb out of the cave, and by that I mean he literally runs haphazardly up the rocks. Unsurprisingly he falls and breaks his leg. Hap screams out in pain and yells out for help but it’s all revealed to be a dream when he wakes back up in the living room with Lucy staring at him.
Since Mina isn’t back yet, Lucy offers to show Hap the castle and takes him to a roof balcony. The two talk and Lucy tells him she and Mina love to tell ghost stories and enthusiastically asks Hap if he knows any. The ever-awkward Hap says he doesn’t know any but asks Lucy to tell him one and she refuses as she doesn’t want to interrupt his date with Mina. Hap then states it’s not a date and, showing his true colors, he attempts to flirt with Lucy.
Lucy asks if Hap is drunk and questions whether he was drunk when he drove Mina home as that would be against the law. Hap says he wasn’t drunk at that point but the drinks are starting to affect him. Continuing with her line of questions, Lucy asks Hap if he is a guilty man but then gets distracted when she notices the cut on Hap’s lip.
Hap lies by saying he bit his own lip and changes the subject. After some flirting from both parties, Hap requests a ghost story but before Lucy can start, Mina arrives with the drinks. Mina suggests they head inside to a different living room and Hap says he’s up for anything. He then insinuates that he’d be willing to sleep with both of them if they’re up for it.
Inside, Mina tells Hap he has to tell them a ghost story first before Lucy can tell her story and Hap reluctantly agrees. Since Hap doesn’t know any stories he tells the story of that night’s events like we haven’t been watching this movie. Although I feel the ending of the movie will be different from the ending of his story which ends with him having sex with the sisters.
Lucy and Mina are not happy with his story because it was supposed to be a ghost story and basically shit on it. Hap asks them to show him how it’s done and Lucy begins her story with “Once upon a time”.
There once was a young girl who lived on the edge of a dark forest with her mom and dad. Her father died while out in the forest and soon after, her mother died from a fever leaving the young girl to watch over the farm by herself. One day a group of hunters came upon the farm and instead of helping the girl, the men took her into the forest, raped her, and left her for dead.
But the girl didn’t die, instead, she laid on the grass until a family consisting of a father and his two daughters found the girl. At this point, as Lucy is telling the story, it becomes painfully obvious that she’s talking about herself with Mina being one of the daughters. Somehow Hap doesn’t pick up on this.
The family brought the girl into their home and nursed her back to health. Eventually, the girl was fully healed and was now bigger, stronger, and faster. Together with her new family, they returned to the village, captured the hunters, tied them up in dark caves, and drained them of their blood.
Hap is taken aback by the “tied them in caves” part of the story realizing that it matches his dream from earlier and questions why she specifically said that. Mina tells him to shush and Lucy continues her story.
The family killed all the men in the village and then moved on to the next village where they did the same. After killing all the villages in that country the family moved far away continuing to kill any village, town, or city, they came across. Eventually, they arrived in the city where Hap, Mina, and Lucy are currently living. To this day the family, consisting of the father and three daughters, continue their murderous rampage at night while they sleep during the day.
Lucy ends her story and though he’s definitely shaken by the story, Hap says he’s lucky there are only two of them. A third sister Nora (played by Lucy Walters) then shows up from behind Hap causing him to jump in fear.
Hap still doesn’t understand what’s going on despite the sisters insinuating that they’re about to murder him. Hap believes they are messing with him because Mina heard the phone call he had with his friend and decides to go home. The sisters tell him he won’t be leaving and Hap doesn’t take the threat seriously, instead chooses to curse them out.
Hap rushes to the door but it won’t open and returns to the sisters demanding they open it. The sisters tease him causing the terrified Hap to threaten them. The door opens on its own but Hap now thinks someone might be out there. The sisters stay quiet and Hap opens the door to reveal Mina standing there.
Mina walks over to the shocked Hap and rips off a piece of his neck. Lucy and Nora join Mina and together they rip off pieces of Hap and kill him.
The film ends with “… And they all lived happily ever after.” a statement that ignores Hap’s current predicament.
House of Darkness is okay. The acting is pretty good but I had a slight problem with almost everything else. The biggest problem House of Darkness has is that it doesn’t need to be 90 minutes long especially since you figure out what’s going on almost immediately so you’re just waiting for the big “reveal”.
The dialogue, although it’s written very well, just feels mostly unnecessary. The overall story has no character you want to root for since you figure out Hap is sleazy and you know that Mina and the sisters are killers. I question why Hap had to be written as a borderline sleazy character, was it to justify the vampires killing him in the end? You end up not caring who wins and you just want to get it over with to find out if there’s some kind of twist.
I think had the 90-minute movie been condensed to a 30-minute episode of something like the Twilight Zone it would have been so much better. It would have come across as a better commentary on dating and a warning to not ignore clearly obvious red flags.
Overall I’m only willing to recommend House of Darkness if you’re watching it with someone else, preferably with a significant other, or on a date as it does make for some good conversation on the dynamics of dating and about how dumb Hap is.