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  • Rev Horror

House of Screaming Glass

Dir. David R. Williams (2024)

A woman inherits a schoolhouse from her grandmother, who was a practicing witch, and she begins to do the same rituals as she becomes plagued with more and more disturbing visions.


Experimental horror is all the rage lately, and it's easy to see why. Despite the extremely polarizing reviews of Kyle Edward Ball's Skinamarink, it was one of the most profitable earnings:cost ratios in quite a while, earning over $2 million from a budget of just $15,000. While I would hardly say I loved that slice of childhood terror, I definitely thought it was well done and it burrowed underneath my skin in a way that very few films do. But film is, primarily, an art form, so it should be no surprise at all that arthouse horror has stormed to the forefront of the genre, for good or ill (depending on who's watching the films). Today's film, from director David R. Williams, seeks to explore the experimental horror genre using a combination of genre tropes and a slow-burn sensibility, to varying effect.


Elizabeth Cadozia (Lani Call) has inherited a schoolhouse from her grandmother, who she isn't even sure if she ever met while she was alive. After digging into what's left in the house, she discovers that her grandmother had been a practicing witch, and she finds herself drawn into the same type of black magic rituals that had previously been performed inside the house. As she begins to have horrific nightmares and waking visions, she finds herself thrown into a terrifying world of horror that might not let her leave alive.

While House of Screaming Glass is certainly not as challenging of a watch as last year's indie analog horror, it shares a lot of the same features that will likely alienate some of its audience. To call this one a slow burn would be an understatement, as there are minutes that pass in this film with very little built other than tension. At times, the tension is relieved, be it with a jump scare or just a creepy blurry visual. At others, the slowness fades into yet more build-up, with just the one character from the film and her voiceover, or the rotating ambient score punctuated by sounds from nature, letting the audience know they're not watching a still-frame. It's arthouse, but it doesn't feel like it's a gimmick, either, serving the purpose of placing the audience into this creepy world alongside Elizabeth's character.


In that, the film is quite effective. It's ominous one moment, disgusting the next, its attempt to personify the house and its evil contrasting with its efforts at making the viewer question Elizabeth's own mental state. It is creepy, despite the lack of action throughout the majority of the film, and the script actually delivers a poetic sort of sadness that is so often lacking in films like this. There needs to be some melancholy with the lackadaisical dread, and House of Screaming Glass delivers that in spades. We almost pray that something terrible will happen to Elizabeth, if only to deliver her from the mournful gloominess that is her life. Star Lani Call does an amazing job of portraying such a deep character with no spoken dialogue, only the body language and facial expressions to carry her character's inner thoughts and feelings. Her performance carries the film as far as it goes, which is necessary because she's literally the only person in the entire movie.

The cinematography is gorgeous and bleak, carrying the subtle blue-ish hues of a rainy Northeastern afternoon with the darkness that lurks at the corners of your vision when you're expecting something horrific to be stalking you. The score is filled with dread, delivering a sense of unease that is almost visceral in its impact. Unfortunately, it will likely be too slow of a film to hold most audiences' attentions. The minutes, at times, feel like hours, and the hours, of course, feel like days. For some, it will be worth the slog, while others will likely have changed the channel before they reach the halfway point. As to whether its worth it? That will be up to the individual viewer, though I feel sure this will be the next in a long line of horror films to get extremely mixed reviews. If it works for you, you won't be able to take your eyes off the screen. If it doesn't, you won't be able to keep them open.


Who this movie is for: Sloooooooow burn horror fans, Experimental horror aficionados, Antique porn collectors


Bottom line: House of Screaming Glass is going to be extremely polarizing because of its challenging pacing and lack of meaningful action through the majority of the film. If it hits with you, however, it will likely hit hard, because its a film that delivers a general sense of unease throughout and a stellar performance from its lead. It's experimental and dull, but it also does a great job of sifting through the echoing soundtrack and the static visuals to provide an apprehensive and tense narrative. I hesitate to compare it to last year's Skinamarink, because it's certainly not that, but it carries a lot of the drudgery that its predecessor did in its often brutally sluggish tempo. If you're a fan of slow burn experimental indie horror with more ambience than action, I'd definitely recommend giving this one a look.

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