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House of Bedlam (2008)

House of


House of Bedlam is the third GMD film I've seen from writer / director Paul Gorman (the first two were Fury and Virgin Pockets.)  All three films have a lot in common;  shaky camera work, homemade movie picture quality, bad acting, and local Erie, PA bands of varying audio quality.  Also, actress Marie Madison appears in all three films.  The biggest improvement found in House of Bedlam over the last couple of films is in the audio quality.  The overall audio mix here is much better than in either of the previous two films and you can understand the majority of the dialog without going back and watching a scene again with the volume turned up.  The camera seems to shake a bit less on this film, but the shots certainly don't flow gracefully.  The other improvement is with the pacing of the film.  Both Fury and Virgin Pockets could have been edited down a lot, but House of Bedlam didn't have nearly as much excess footage left in the film.

I understand that this is pretty much a no-budget film and I'm not comparing it to The Devil's Rejects in terms of quality.  However, even when compared to other no-budget films, this one is below average in most respects.  The acting runs from pretty good to awful.  Many of the actors constantly stumble over their rushed dialog making the acting seem very amateur.  Even after seeing two other GMD films, I was surprised by some of the mistakes that were left in.  I can understand getting to the editing room, realizing that you don't have the best footage and working with what you've got, but some of these scenes were bad enough that they must have noticed while they were filming.  

Actress Katie Russell plays Abby, the only chick in the group of students on a plant-gathering camping trip.  Her acting was among the best in the film.  Actor Jeremy Krukowski who plays Brad (the closest thing to a leader this group seems to have) was one of the best actors in the last GMD film I reviewed, Virgin Pockets.  Once again in this film, he stands out as one of the most professional actors.  However, there were a couple of scenes where even their acting wasn't very believable, which makes me think blame may lie with the director, Paul Gorman.  Marie Madison is the only person I recognized from all three films and, although her role was much smaller in House of Bedlam than either of the previous films, I felt like her acting has improved considerably.  Then you have a performance like the one by Johnzo Cipriani, who plays Eddie the stoner, that was absolutely terrible.  Almost every line of dialog he delivered was about as emotionless as a nervous 5th grader reading his book report out loud to the class.  

The movie is filled with inconsistencies with relation to passage of time and accuracy with the props and clothing for the flashbacks to the 1800s.  The characters were placed in situations and reacted to situations in ways that were not very believable even for a horror movie.  Also, the dialog is pretty bad, but that's to be expected with this kind of movie.  I can look past all of that.  Those points don't really matter in a no-budget horror film.  However, the most disappointing element of the film was that it didn't live up to the promises of the warning label on the box or the website.  The warning claims that the film is intended for mature audiences and contains adult language, graphic violence, realistic depictions of rape, gore and pervasive depictions of drug use.  Well, there is a lot of casual pot smoking (with no interesting effects) and enough adult language to give the movie an 'R' rating, but the violence isn't really all that graphic.  Much of it is actually implied.  I wouldn't call the depictions of rape and gore "realistic" either.  If I hadn't read the warning about the realistic depiction of rape, I wouldn't have been sure that a rape was taking place.  Most of the time, it actually just looked like a group of guys trying to hold these women down so that they could tie them up or something.  In terms of gore, there isn't any gore at all through most of the movie.  When the gore finally makes it's way to the screen, it looks pretty fake.  There is one attempt at a big gore scene and the quantity for that one scene isn't bad, but the quality just isn't there.

If this film were a first attempt by a group of amateurs or a fun weekend project, I think I may have viewed it differently.   Because GMD Films is trying to present themselves as a professional studio and because Paul Gorman has released several films at this point, I feel like I have to be a little bit harder in the review.  I'm still not expecting Lord of the Rings quality here, but at this point I would at least like to see scenes where the actors aren't talking over each other.  I know that you work with what you've got and sometimes that means settling less than the best, but if you're going to have a big red warning label on the DVD case, at least give us a lot of blood, gore and nudity.

Gore-o-meter rating: 2 out of 5
(There is gore, but the quality and quantity were disappointing)

Skin-o-meter: 0 out of 5 (no skin)