Four friends, Tera (Chloe Farnworth), Henrick (Kristian Messere), Valerie (Christine Scherer) and Samuel (Umberto Celisano) are looking to enjoy a weekend of relaxation/partying at a rented villa. From the moment they get there, most of the group get down to the usual antics you get in horror films. Lots of drinking, sex and characters behaving horribly. In fact, the only one with any redeeming characteristics is Valerie whose religious beliefs keep her more reserved.
After a very unusual meeting with the owner of the villa, the night really gets started and things start to get strange. Well, kind of. Weird lighting and sexy dancing. Not that you’ll really care though as First House on the Hill takes way too long to really get going. It wouldn’t be a problem if it was using that time to really flesh out its characters but it isn’t.
The film finally gets going the next morning when they discover a body and a deck of tarot cards. The body is that of the maid and no-one has a clue how she ended up dead. Time to call in the police, right? Not these guys! In a stunning moment of poor writing, the group decide to leave the body until the next day and instead play around with the tarot cards.
This is such an absurd development. As horror fans we’ve become conditioned to expect dumb or irrational behaviour from characters but this is too much. It kills any momentum and plausibility the movie has. They even briefly consider burning the body!
From this point on things start to go really wrong leading to a more enjoyable finale with a twist that is fairly entertaining even if it’s predictable.
First House on the Hill’s biggest flaw isn’t just its story though. Its attempt to capture the Italian gothic/giallos of the past fails. The lack of violence, outrageous moments and shock factor makes for a mostly lacklustre watch. There’s some cleverly done shots and nice lighting but the meandering plot and boorish characters will be all you remember at the end.
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First House on the Hill
The Final Score - 4.5/10