5 November 2017



'Live a good and decent life and you can stay for as long as you like. Break this rule and face eviction... and never be seen or heard from again...'

Also known as HAVENHURST, and made by the producers of the super-successful SAW franchise, this is a film that had huge potential starting off, but then lost its way pretty badly even before it reached the halfway point. It was confusing from the off as well, which didn't help. Let's have a look at the plot and see if we can work out where it all went wrong for RESURRECTION OF EVIL.

Does the name sound to you like a Playstation game for men and boys, by the way, because that's what it instantly put me in mind of, and I bloody hate those things, haha. Eyes start to glaze over the second the ads come on the telly...!

Okay, so here we go. Jackie Sullivan, played by Julie Benz from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and DEXTER, is a recovering alcoholic who gets a flat in an old Gothic apartment complex in New York that's entirely peopled by recovering addicts. It doesn't matter what your addiction is, there'll be a place for you at Havenhurst.

Havenhurst is run by Eleanor Mudgett, beautifully played by Irish actress and political activist Fionnula Flanagan. Her regal appearances in her immaculate green suit, perfectly made-up and with her silvery hair coiffed to a T, brighten up an otherwise drab film. Drab is the right word, as it's a very 'brown' sort of film, if you get me, with browns and greys being the main colours used.

Old Ma Mudgett owns the gigantic old turn-of-the-century apartment building, which is bigger even than the one in popular sitcom FRIENDS, or the one in Roman Polanski's smash hit horror flick ROSEMARY'S BABY. It's utterly humongous.

She runs it with the help of her big burly sons, but also with the aid of closed circuit television cameras in every room that presumably the tenants don't know about, or they might object to such a flagrant breach of their right to privacy in their own homes.

Mrs. Mudgett gives Jackie 'the talk' as soon as Jackie moves into Havenhurst. You can stay here for the rest of your life, my dear, as long as you behave yourself. Go back to your degenerate ways, however, relapse back into alcoholism and you'll be evicted.

Fair enough. It's meant to be a sort of second chance at life for the addicts, after all. The thing is, though, that eviction at Havenhurst doesn't seem to mean quite what it means on the outside world. Eviction at Havenhurst seems to involve terrible pain and suffering, and gut-wrenching, knife-twisting fear, the kind that'll rip your guts out and turn your bowels to water...

Sounds great, doesn't it? Sadly, the film doesn't really live up to its own hype. First off, we're confused. How come Jackie moves into the exact apartment that was previously tenanted by her missing friend Danielle Hampton, briefly played by iconic scream queen Danielle Harris from the HALLOWEEN franchise?

Is it a coincidence? Is that why Jackie's gotten herself into Havenhurst? Is she a real addict, or is she just looking for a missing mate? And who's this so-called 'hard-headed detective' she's got helping her? Hard-headed my arse. He gives up completely after two attempts. Even I will try a thing three, four, five or even six times before I'll give it up as a bad job. And if it's a guy I'm trying to change, well then, my labours will know no bounds...!

The most annoying part of the film is the presence everywhere Jackie turns of a pesky little girl whose foster parents have just been 'evicted' for re-offending, for going back to their old ways and also for enabling each other to do likewise.

The kid incidentally looks a lot like a young Dakota Fanning when she was a child star in
films like Tom Cruise's WAR OF THE WORLDS, but when I looked the kid up online she'd morphed into a sexy young woman, even though the film was only made last year. How old was the kid when she made the film, thirty-five? She's meant to be a twelve-year-old girl, for crying out loud. And her mopey face and monotone voice really bugged me. No offence, kiddo.

I would have left the kid out altogether, personally speaking. She was an irritant I could have done without. And why was the Pursuer, one of Old Ma Mudgett's sons, dressed as a gimp? He looked ridiculous. He could have looked scary enough without the gimpy togs. And Danielle and Jackie look quite a lot alike, and the Gimp is the image of his janitor brother, so this actually makes for quite a lot of confusion that, frankly, the film doesn't need.

And what connection does the old serial killer H.H. Holmes have to Mrs. Mudgett and her odious offspring? Are they his descendants or what? It's never explained. Neither is it explained why Mrs. Mudgett hates addicts so much, enough to set up a home for them where she has free rein to torture them as much as she likes when they're foolish enough to relapse under her roof. Nothing is really explained satisfactorily.

And the ending...! Don't get me started on the ending. It feels somehow like the last twenty or thirty minutes of the film, the dénouement, has been brutally hacked off and the movie suddenly ends. Credits roll, that's it.

End of story, goodbye and good luck, here's your hat, what's your hurry? I felt like Charlie Bucket when Willy Wonka tells him the tour is over and can he kindly fuck off now, please, and take his untidy-looking Grandfather with him?

I can think of at least two things that absolutely, positively should have happened before the film was allowed to end, two things that might have at least put a full stop to the whole confusing mess. But no, the movie just ends. One ticket to Unfulfilment City, please. There's no proper closure. Ah well. Whaddya gonna do...?

The building itself is a terrific old place, filled with hidey-holes and nifty little crawl-spaces for hiding bodies and whatnot. And the idea of an 'eviction' that's not really an eviction but something much more sinister was always going to be a good one.

It's like that TREEHOUSE OF HORROR episode of THE SIMPSONS called NIGHTMARE CAFETERIA, in which kids sent to 'Detention' are really being marked out for cannibalism on the part of the teachers.

'Remember me telling Jimbo I'd make something of him someday?' gloats Principal Skinner as the teachers tuck into some rather top-notch Sloppy Jimbos, erm, I mean, Sloppy Joes, at lunchtime.

'Are you telling us that you killed Jimbo, processed his carcass and served him for lunch?' Edna Krabappel counters in disbelief. As Principal Seymour Skinner has said himself on occasion, 'that's about the beat of it, yes...!'

RESURRECTION OF EVIL is a movie with a good underlying concept that was somewhat mismanaged. It's all in the execution, isn't it? I'm not saying that you guys shouldn't watch it. You should totally watch it and let me know what you all think.

And if you think it's brilliant and that I'm a damned fool, then let me know that too. I can take it. I'm a hard-bitten reviewer here at the very coal-face of movie criticism. I can dish it out and take it as well. Well, actually, that's a lie, no I can't. I'm very fragile. Be gentle with me...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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