Dead on Appraisal (2014)

*. A real estate agent gets ready to stage an open house for a cursed property. This is our introduction to a trilogy of terror, with each of the three stories being set in the fateful home.
*. I want to say that the creators were thinking of The House That Dripped Blood (1971), an Amicus anthology horror that had an agent introducing violent episodes from a scary house’s past, but given how amateurish a project this is I really can’t feel confident saying that classic Brit horror was in anyone’s mind. It’s just as likely that they only had the one house to shoot in.
*. After watching five minutes of Dead on Appraisal you’ll realize that it’s a movie that there’s no point being bitchy about. It’s awful — and I mean really, really awful — in nearly every department: acting, writing, lighting, sound, editing, effects. I’m surprised I actually watched all of it. But since it appears to be a movie that a bunch of friends threw together over a long weekend, what’s the harm?
*. The overall impression is of total chaos. The effects range from puppets to crude animation. The story dislocates us in time, and I was never quite sure what order the stories were supposed to be in. Indeed, I didn’t even pick up on the break in the first story, “The Morning After.” I thought the cut to the crazy bug hunter was the lead-in to the next story.
*. The most chaotic thing, however, is the unevenness of tone. For the most part it’s a horror comedy that doesn’t take itself seriously. There are moments, however, especially in the second story, where it seems to want to create a different atmosphere: brooding and heavy with threat.
*. Overall, it’s never scary, but instead emphasizes zany gouts of gore and slapstick violence that just add to the chaos. It’s never even clear why all of this crazy shit is happening. Was the house built on an Indian burial ground? Or has some doorway to another dimension been accidentally opened?
*. Maybe they were just making it up as they went along. That rarely works out. The first story is a total mess. The second story might have worked if it had been done differently. The third story had potential as a “stoner” comedy horror, but it loses the thread as well.
*. Still, everyone has to start somewhere. And from here there’s nowhere to go but up.

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