House Of 9 (2004)

DVD Cover (Visual Entertainment)
Genres: Paranoid Thriller, Thriller
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Steven R. Monroe Steven R. Monroe
Kelly Brook Kelly Brook
Dennis Hopper Dennis Hopper
Hippolyte Girardot Hippolyte Girardot
Ashley Walters Ashley Walters
Raffaello Degruttola Raffaello Degruttola

5.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: March 19, 2006
Nine people with nothing in common and with no ties to any of the others (with one exception) are snatched out of their daily lives and locked inside a mansion together. When they come to, they find that the doors are made out of solid steel (and locked, naturally), and they also discover that the windows have been bricked up. After the group searches the house and find no means of escape, they meet up with one another in the kitchen to discuss their situation. Soon afterwards, a voice comes over a loud speaker which informs them why they're here inside this house. There are cameras and microphones hidden all over the house, the voice explains, and these nine people are participating in a sort of reality show. The winner of this "show" receives five million dollars, and all they have to do is live longer than the other eight people. There are no fiendish traps and there's nobody inside the house attempting to kill them, but when the food runs out, the heat is turned up a few notches (literally) and the desperation kicks in, it doesn't take long before the body count starts to pile up.

The group consists of the following nine people:
Father Duffy (Dennis Hopper) is a priest who is naturally against all types of violence.
Lea (Kelly Brook) is the innocent girl who was a dancer before winding up here.
A husband-and-wife team of Francis (Hippolyte Girardot) and Cynthia (Julienne Davis).
Max (Peter Capaldi), a fashion designer.
Claire (Susie Amy), a spoiled rich girl (think of Paris Hilton).
Jay (Raffaello Degruttola), a cop who happens to have the sole weapon of the house... his police-issued gun.
Al B (Ashley Walters), a gangsta rapper who was on the verge of receiving a record deal, and who also hates white people.
Shona (Morven Christie), a drug-dealing lady who is about as close to British white trash as you can get.

At a glance, this movie can be pretty easily compared to another movie that you may or may not have Saw. Indeed, the basic storyline of a group of people trapped inside of a house who have to make life-and-death decisions in order to escape is quite similar, but that is where the similarities end. As I mentioned, there are no intricate traps set up in this house, the man behind the show doesn't give clues as to how to escape, and things are generally more "real" here. After he announces the rules of the game, it's up to the people inside the house as to whether or not they kill one another, and it's also up to them as to how they go about doing it. It's more of a study of the human psyche than a horror film, but I found that it worked out pretty damned nicely.

Another thing that I liked about this film was the lack of stupid decisions, with the exception of once scene towards the end involving the food rations. You won't see anybody crawl inside of a furnace here, and you certainly won't see anyone stick their hands inside of an obviously-trapped box. Everything seems so natural; at first, the group decides that they won't kill anyone, and at the end of the film, there is only one survivor. The way that this film moves from one point to the other is about as close to reality as you can get (given the scenario, of course), and again, this is what makes the film work so well. Another highlight of the film that added to the realism was who the survivor turned out to be. The reason for this is simple; as the movie moves along, you'll probably figure out who you think will survive it, but you'll be proven wrong a few scenes later. At that point, you'll say to yourself "OK, well then, _____ has to be the one to live", and again, you'll be proven wrong. This makes things so much more interesting, because you become quite intrigued as to who will live after the obvious choices have been knocked off of the list.

The only thing I didn't care for about this movie was the character development that took up the first half hour of the film. Now, I'm not against character development, especially in this type of film; it's the way that it was handled that hurt things, in my view. The individual cast members give good performances (especially Dennis Hopper and Ashley Walters), but there's really not a whole lot to the characters themselves... the angry black guy is really angry, the priest prays a lot and is always thinking of his religion, the spoiled girl is really spoiled, etc. After the first death occurs, order starts to break down and the movie picks up the pace, but I can't help but wonder how much higher I would have rated this movie had either the character development been removed or improved.

If you enjoyed Saw, My Little Eye, Cube, or any of the other reality-show / fatal-decisions type films, you'll likely enjoy this one as well. It's not the best of the bunch, but it's certainly not far behind... and it's definitely far from being a rip-off of any of the aforementioned films, contrary to what you may think after reading the description. 7/10.
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