Between the 1950s and the 1970s, England saw a boom in the Gothic horror scene, with many of these films coming from iconic film production company Hammer. Between 2015 and 2016, a group of volunteer British filmmakers set out on a mission to pay homage and celebrate this bygone era in British horror. And in 2017 on a budget of £4,000, The House of Screaming Death was finally released to British film circuits. Bringing together local talent in front of and behind the camera, as well as the legendary Ian McNeice, The House of Screaming Death was filmed across the Midlands, UK at what is considered the third most haunted manor in the Midlands. Ian McNeice acts as our narrator through out the film and we come to know him simply as “The Architect”, over the course of the film, “The Architect”, weaves us four tales of terror involving; Witches, Ghosts, Vampires and Demons. As the final act draws near, “The Architect” leaves us with one final story and perhaps it is the key to discovering who exactly “The Architect” is.
On an eerie night at the old Bray Manor, a storyteller known as “The Architect” tells an eager audience of invited guests four chilling stories all of which are connected to the vary Manor in which they presently reside.
The Lady in Grey – a veteran of the Great War, now a caretaker for the Manor, recounts the dreary history of his new home. As each night passes, the caretaker feels the presence of the former residents, who have long since left the world of the living.
The Witch in the Mirror – In 1934, a mother, who recently lost her child, tampers with the dark arts in hopes of bringing the child back. After an accident, she is cast into a realm surrounded by masked figures. Forty years later a young girl and her boyfriend, inherit the house from her late uncle. Upon arriving at the house, the uncle’s lawyer leaves the young couple with a single warning, to never be caught between two mirrors.
The Vampyre – After a string of murders and mishaps befall a small town, a young man arrives to the village and takes up residence at the old Manor. Upon being labeled as an outcast by the spooked villagers, the young man befriends a strange homeless man. As more murders are committed, the villagers grow suspicious of their new visitor.
The Diabolique – A young woman begins seeing visions of her long since deceased brother, he implores her to return to there childhood home, in hopes of destroying the evil specter that plagues the manor.
For fans of old school Gothic horror, The House of Screaming Death has plenty to offer. Many scenes through out feel like they could very well have been ripped from the pages of an Edgar Allen Poe story. Ian McNeice in particular provides a great performance as “The Architect”, at times McNeice can come off quite menacing and other times can give off an almost eager glee when recounting the demise of Bray Manor’s past tenants. Each story helps to build towards the dark history of the Manor and by the end I did feel the film was successful in fleshing out the backstory of the Manor, turning the Manor into a character in of itself. As far as the films attempt at recreating the feel of Hammer Horror, i cant say they were entirely successful. Where the film shines brightest has to be in the form of The Vampyre. Giving off old school feels reminiscent of films like Nosferatu and American Werewolf in London, The Vampyre provides a nice story with a nice pace, that leads to an ending you’ll see coming, but is still welcomed and no less entertaining. Other times with stories like The Lady in Gray, the film seems to slow down quite a bit. While the story being told almost seems poetic, it still feels like an unfinished story, almost as if we were building to something grand, but we never quite reached it. In conclusion, there is lots to admire with The House of Screaming Death, from its set design, to the masterful performance of Mr. Ian McNeice and to the passion of the various filmmakers that worked on the film. I can confidently say for fans of the genre, its a definite good time, but for those looking for a good scare, you probably wont find one here.
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