Back in the 90’s there was a glorious resurgence in the Indie movie scene, which busted out gems like Swingers, Clerks and Kids. That era came and went fairly quick and we no longer see those kinds of Indie love fests.
However, the horror genre has always been one to draw the Indie directors. Maybe it’s because of the films they saw as a kid, maybe it’s because horror is well known as being easy to make, but there is a huge amount of Indie horror out there if you want to make the effort to look for it.
House of White Spiders is a low budget indie flick written and directed (along with a bazillion other production roles) by Gregg Taylor. According to IMDB this is Taylor’s first film credit, and if you’re going to go this route, you might as well get your name on it a lot!
Now to start, when I popped the DVD into my player (an el cheapo Wal-Mart brand), I had a bit of an issue loading it up. First it didn’t want to load, before I opened the drive and popped it back in, and it took the second time. However, I tried to jump to the root menu to start the flick, and it crashed. Again I shoved it back into the player and sat through the menu animation, which is a bit long in my opinion, but I can’t knock it for that, I guess.
As the movie begins, we see the inside life of what we are lead to believe is a severely alcoholic, fascist religious nut. This is where House falls victim to lighting issues which plague various indie films. Some of the shadows are a bit bracing, but I can get past that easily.
Taylor builds up the suspense nicely, with some interesting shots of religious symbols and the voice over of the money grubbing televangelist. I wish he wouldn’t have gone so edit crazy in this scene, because it has a nice joke build up with the evangelist that gets chopped up in some awkward places.
Speaking of jokes, that’s my main issue with the movie. Taylor goes out of his way to establish mood in the film, and a sense of dread, but interspersed are some very awkward comedic moments that just don’t seem to belong.
So the story goes that Stephen, played by William Rivera, is a broke, struggling artist, lost for inspiration. After an argument with his girlfriend about money, he is offered a job to clean a house in the middle of nowhere for $5,000.
So off Stephen goes to god knows where and meets Celia Watkins, played by Beth Hoffman. Celia is some creepy old chick that owns the house, and is one of the only living people in the area. She spends most of the movie being creepy and hinting at things, however one of the highlights of the movie, for me, was the Crazy Ralph (you know, from Friday the 13th) type Priest who pops up and warns Stephen of the impending doom. I don’t know if it’s because of the acting, or what, but I giggled every time he showed up.
As Stephen spends more time in the house, he begins to hear voices and see weird shit, leading him to discover the dark secrets that live there.
That’s about as far into the plot I can go without giving away the secrets.
Now the flick is an Indie flick so it suffers from all of the stereotypes of independent movies. Sketchy acting, bad lighting and character inconsistencies are par for the course, but beneath all that, you can see a group of people that wanted to make a flick and did just that. Plus Taylor has some real skill that will only get better as his career goes. There are some very nice leadups and tension stretching scenes that work very well, even if all of them don’t feel entirely necessary.
The movie is long, especially for an indie flick, coming in at just over 2 hours. Personally, I think it could have been trimmed down a bit, but it never felt dragged out and it held my interest.
All in all I really enjoyed House of White Spiders. The movie showed a lot of spirit and gusto and that tends to go a long way with me. Sure it has its problems, but it has just as many things working for it. At the end of the day I can give a recommend for House of White Spiders if you’re into indie fare.
Final Score: 7/10