Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Haunting of Whaley House (2012)



"A tour guide at a notorious haunted house gets more than she bargained for during an unauthorized ghost-hunting session with friends."

As someone who gave up on ever seeing anything good come from "The Asylum" a very long time ago, I was in two minds about hiring "The Haunting of Whaley House". On one hand, it had a couple of my internet friends in it, but on the other, the closest "The Asylum" ever came to making a decent horror movie was "Paranormal Entity" (2009), and that has been turning on up in those pitiful Echo Bridge DVD compilations ever since. I wanted it to be okay, but I feared the worst.

I'd never heard of the Whaley House in San Diego or any of the true ghost stories surrounding it so, of course, I Googled it. Although the Wikipedia article was a bit brief, I also found another one from the Los Angeles Times which was obviously the inspiration for part of this film. Trust me, it's better if you read both these articles after watching "The Haunting of Whaley House" rather than before.

Apart from "Coolduder" (Shawn C. Phillips) who had a couple of amusing minutes at the start, and, of course, the very recognisable Maria Olsen who played yet another creepy character, I didn't know the names of anyone else in the cast. The truth is, I don't think many of them had ever been in a movie before, and it showed. The acting was inconsistent at best (and non-existent most of the time), but it was never so completely horrible that I wanted to stop watching. Against my normally better judgement, I actually found "The Haunting of Whaley House" to be quite enjoyable for a B (or even C) grade horror movie.


Although Stephanie Greco was the only one who stood out in a very good way, it wasn't just because she was the prettiest. Compared to the other cast members, she could definitely act a bit too. I sort of liked all of the actors/characters really apart from the psychic, Keith Drummond (Howard McNair), who got on my nerves at times with his "ITV agony aunt" style of speaking.

One major flaw in the whole production was that it started off too light and schizophrenically alternated between trying to be a serious ghost story and a comedy from then on. "The Haunting of Whaley House" needed to be one thing or the other as, despite some creepy moments, it was a bit of a failure as far as scares were concerned. It had a very '80s feel to it at times, but that wasn't necessarily a good thing especially if, like me, you don't think much of most '80s horror movies in the first place.

The set design for the Whaley House was very well done and I have a feeling that was where most of the estimated $115,000 budget went since none of this was filmed in the real Whaley House. I'd also guess that a lot of time went into the make-up effects which were above average for this kind of thing too. The ghosts really were quite terrifying to look at during the far too few occasions when they were seen.

Overall, I was very entertained by "The Haunting of Whaley House". Even though I'd rate it as well below average when compared to a classic haunted house movie such as "The Haunting" (1963), I liked how it cleverly worked all of the true Whaley House ghost stories into its plot, and so it gets a recommendation from me.

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