THE CURSE OF HOBBES HOUSE | ©2020 4Digital Media

THE CURSE OF HOBBES HOUSE | ©2020 4Digital Media

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Mhairi Calvey, Waleed Elgadi, Makenna Guyler, Kevin Leslie, Emma Spurgin Hussey, Jo Price
Writer: Wolf-Peter Arand, story by Juliane Block & Wolf-Peter Arand
Director: Juliane Block
Distributor: 4Digital Media
Release Date: December 15, 2020

THE CURSE OF HOBBES HOUSE begins with an elaborate narrated prologue, voiced over still artwork illustrations. It’s a bit confusing, at first, because we hear about a “great war” with big explosions, but this turns out not to be the Great War, i.e., World War I.

Instead, it’s a pre-history event in what is now England. An evil king called Dormant kills a “witcher” called Hobbes for his land. With his dying words, Hobbes curses Dormant, his lineage and servants, so that they are bound to protect the land in life and in death.

Dormant builds a new house on the land, calls it Hobbes House to spite his former enemy, then falls ill and dies in agony.

Got all that? It’s not much of a spoiler, since it’s all in the first few minutes of the movie.

Hobbes House has now stood for generations, and all of this is being related by Dormant’s present-day descendant, Alexandra Hobbes (Emma Spurgin Hussey), the current resident of Hobbes House.

Just when we think this is all to storybook-ish for words, a bit of blunt dialogue brings us up to speed as two men wander in the Hobbes House cemetery at night. The would-be burglars are quickly and gorily dispatched.

Alex bequeaths a book of Hobbes House legends to her servant Naser (Waleed Elgadi), and tells him to always remember the story of the guardians. “Only unity will keep you safe.”

In the city, Alex’s niece Jane (Mhairi Calvey) has been evicted, just got fired and is having car trouble. Jane gets a call from Alex’s lawyer, Ms. Saul (Jo Price), summoning her to Hobbes House. Here Jane encounters her younger half-sister Jenny (Makenna Guyler), an Internet vlog celebrity, and Jenny’s partner, lawyer Nigel (Kevin Leslie).

Soon enough, there’s a quasi-accident, and the dead begin to rise.

By the end of THE CURSE OF HOBBES HOUSE, we can surmise that director Juliane Block and writer Wolf-Peter Arand, who crafted the story together, are going for something that balances folklore, family drama, and horror in about equal measure.

This all sounds fine, except that the folklore is extremely front-loaded, and the family drama is not set out properly. By the time Jane and Jennifer start acting like normal people, we’re pretty irritated with both of them.

Jane accuses Jenny of crying crocodile tears, and we’re inclined to agree. It’s also hard to feel deeply for anyone who has hooked up with someone as obviously smarmy as Nigel (Leslie does a great job with the character’s smiling callousness).

Meanwhile, Jane’s behavior is so erratic as to be puzzling. We feel bad for her when she seems down on her luck, but our sympathy starts to evaporate when she gets sulky about sticking around for a will reading that has the potential to solve her problems.

This is not the fault of Calvey and Guyler, who play their roles with conviction. Elgadi is endearing as the good-hearted Naser, a character who gets a coherent back story. However, we don’t understand why Alex directs certain comments at Naser, since they don’t apply to him personally.

While there is some good splatter, there are no jump scares. Even though people are sometimes trapped, there is also not much sense of claustrophobia. The characters seem more angered than frightened by their predicament, so they’re not upping the horror factor. Unless a viewer has a deep conceptual dread of zombies, THE CURSE OF HOBBES HOUSE is stylish, but not scary.

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