Writers: Natalie Jones, Aaron Keeling, Austin Keeling
Directors: Aaron Keeling, Austin Keeling
The House On Pine Street is a modern take on the very old combo of pregnant woman and haunted house.
The story begins with heavily pregnant Jennifer (Emily Goss) and husband Luke (Taylor Bottles) moving into a house in a small Kansas town. There’s a strong atmosphere created, but rather than menace it’s one of misery and strangeness. It’s clear that Jennifer and Luke aren’t going through a happy period of their lives, although the reasons for this are only hinted at initially. And whilst the town itself is apple pie Americana the inhabitants are… odd.
Nothing happens for twenty minutes or so as we’re introduced to members of the local community. There’s still no real menace but a definite feeling that something isn’t right – a definite Rosemarys Baby (1968) vibe.
Soon after a party organised by Jennifer’s interfering mother Meredith (Cathy Barnett), Things start happening. Jennifer experiences noises, items moving and all the usual haunted house paraphernalia. The film steps up a gear here, but also moves more heavily into cliche territory.
Of course only Jennifer experiences these events. There are hints that she’s had ‘problems’ in the past, so is the house haunted or is it all in her imagination? As the film progresses Jennifer slowly loses her grip until we reach a nice ‘third way’ explanation.
This is very much Goss’s film and she does a great job at portraying the troubled and deteriorating Jennifer. The support cast are also strong, especially Barnett having fun as Meredith, Jim Korinke as the psychic Walter and Tisha Swart-Entwistle as troubled neighbour Marlene.
Direction is also strong, though perhaps a bit obviously film-school. There are some great shots and many of these reflect what is ultimately revealed as the core of the story.
But the pacing is poor and the film isn’t quite strong enough to carry it’s length. After a protracted first act things build nicely but then everything gets explained in a rush with a (well delivered) infodump from Walter. The camera also wobbles more than it necessary.
I really liked what The House on Pine Street was trying to do and in many places it succeeded really well. However it does have some definite flaws: the burn is rather too slow, there are too many cliched moments and the infodump explanation near the end is clumsy. With a little cutting and tweaking it could have been superb, but even as it stands it’s good and worth watching.