Review: ‘The Hanover House’

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“Prior to the production of The Hanover House, I wasn’t sure if I believed in ghosts or not. On my third night in the house, I was awoken by my two dogs standing on the edge of my bed, growling. Standing above me was the figure of an old man. Other crew members saw shadow people, orbs and experienced cold spots.”
– Corey Norman, Director

The Hanover House is Maine filmmaker Corey Norman’s first feature-length film.  New Englanders can catch the world premier of this Supernatural Horror at the Dead at the Drive-In film festival at the Saco Drive-In where it’s screening on Friday May 9th and Saturday May 10th.  You can find out more about Dead at the Drive-In and get your tickets at the festival’s official website: HERE

Check out my review after the jump.

Official Synopsis:  Returning from his father’s funeral, Robert Foster is faced with the unimaginable; he hits a young girl with his car. In a desperate attempt to save her life, he seeks help at a nearby farmhouse. Little does Robert know that the house has been waiting for him his entire life. Once inside its walls, Robert must overcome his own personal demons in an attempt to save both his wife and himself. But there’s a problem: Only one may leave The Hanover House alive.

About the Production:  The Hanover House was filmed over the course of 16 days in January and May of 2013 using a RED Epic camera. One thing that sets the production of The Hanover House apart from other haunted house films on the market is the fact that [it was filmed] in an actual haunted house. Built in 1883, this farmhouse, which is located in the mountains of western Maine, has been the home of supernatural phenomena for the last hundred years. Former residents have been shaken awake by a full body apparition of an old man, seen a full body apparition of a young boy playing on the stairs, seen floating orbs of energy above them in their beds and had objects removed from the walls and placed in other areas of the house. At least two former babysitters refuse to ever step foot in the house again. 

The Hanover House is the type of slow-burn modern Gothic movie you might expect from Hammer Films overseas; indeed, few American Horror offerings employ the subtlety of execution that Norman deftly weaves throughout.  The result is a film that builds steadily in intensity until it reaches a nightmarish fever-pitch. For Horror fans who appreciate intelligent storytelling and disturbing subtext, The Hanover House is like a nice, slow hand-job with a killer finish.

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Brian Chamberlain and Casey Turner excel in their portrayal of married couple Robert and Shannon Foster.  Their relationship is complicated; just over a year after their wedding, Robert is becoming increasingly detached from his now-pregnant wife. The unexpected death of Robert’s father only drives him further into a nebulous depression.  The situation becomes near chaotic at the funeral, where it is revealed that Robert also has a complicated past, teeming with unresolved emotional conflict.  Fans of Gothic films and literature recognize this scenario as a perfect precursor for a descent into madness.

After the car accident, Robert seeks help at a nearby home where the man who answers the door bears an uncanny resemblance to his dead father.  Let the insanity begin!

What follows is a night of abject terror where Robert must come to terms with troubled past and his uncertain future. The action slows, and it’s sometimes difficult to understand the character’s motivations; Robert seems to forget the young woman bleeding in the road and, when Shannon follows, she too seems to fall into a state of ineffectual uncertainty.  This isn’t necessarily a fault, as Gothic storytelling often abides by a surreal nightmare-logic that never really meshes with reality.

The House itself is overflowing with symbolic subtext; an antique radio seems to channel voices from hell, and a rotary phone offers a connection to the otherworldly.  We learn that some of the house’s previous inhabitants met with violent deaths—and their spirits remain trapped within.  Any time I see an axe in a Horror movie, I automatically recall The Shining and this allusion to perhaps the most terrifying Haunted House story of all time is not lost on this blogger.

Anne Bobby returns to Horror for the first time since Nightbreed in 1990

Anne Bobby returns to Horror for the first time since Nightbreed in 1990

By the film’s conclusion, I’m wondering it the titular House is even a house at all.  Is it actually an entity that feeds on sorrow and dysfunction?  Is it a sort of purgatory where Robert will remain trapped until he deals with his past and conquers his demons?  Did Robert and Shannon take a wrong turn into The Twilight Zone? I for one really like the fact that The Hanover House is opened to interpretation.  It’s a thinking-person’s film, one that doesn’t offer up easy answers on a silver platter with a tidy bow.

It’s also worth noting that The Hanover House marks actress Anne Bobby’s return to Horror; it’s her first genre film since she appeared as Lori Winston in Clive Barker’s cult hit Nightbreed in 1990. Her portrayal Martha Hobson (Robert’s estranged mother) is another highlight of the film.

Beneath the surface, The Hanover House makes some remarkable and disturbing statements regarding parenthood and family. George Clinton says “American eats its young” and this film illustrates that sentiment to a tee. Robert and Shannon are both products of broken families where parents were either absent or adversarial. Without role models, they are ill equipped to handle the challenges involved in creating their own family. It’s this deficiency that makes them easy prey for the evil and confounding forces they encounter.

The Hanover House might not please those who like their Horror to include hyper-activity and a significant body count, but patient and intelligent aficionados will recognize this film as a definite gem. While it’s not currently available to purchase or stream, I imagine smart indie distributors will be fighting for the chance to release The Hanover House in the not too distant future.

I’d like to give a special “Thank You” to Corey Norman for sending me a screening copy of The Hanover House. Having the chance to experience a film before it’s premier is an honor.  Congratulations and good luck!

3.5 out of 5 Skull Heads

Official Website: HERE

Trailer:  HERE 

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About Saucy Josh

I write a blog for intelligent Horror movie aficionados called Blood and Guts for Grown Ups: https://bloodandgutsforgrownups.wordpress.com/ View all posts by Saucy Josh

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