"House of Forbidden Secrets"
Written & Directed By: Todd Sheets
A new night watchman, the down-on-his-luck Jacob (Antwoine Steele), starts his new job at a mysterious mansion turned office complex on the anniversary of a dark, violent event from the past, and, after a seemingly harmless seance, all Hell, literally, breaks loose in this brilliant homage to the Italian masters of yore from DIY legend Todd Sheets.
A cinematic "love letter" to Fulci, Bava (more Lamberto than Mario) and others, "House" contains all of the ingredients for a "spaghetti-splatter" classic: face ripping gore, eviscerations, crucifixions, demons and a Fabio Frizzi score! Of course, having genre standouts like Lew Temple and Dyanne Thorne in major roles as ghostly adversaries from the past, and cameos from Ari Lehman, and Lloyd Kaufman (at his hammy, annoying best, or worst, depending on your perspective) combine to help further lend an "authenticity" to this low budget masterpiece.
And that's not to say the rest of the cast are limited to set dressing--Steele gives a great performance as Jacob, as does Bryan David as Jackson. The one-two punch of gothic gorgeousness that actresses Nicole Santorella and Michaela Paxton Tarbell bring to the film as unfortunate mediums also stand out a shining examples of indie film talent. Sheets exhibits a maturity in the way he manages to pull a complex story together, that sometimes feels as if it's veering out of control, into a satisfying, terrifying, little gem of genre nastiness.
Great effects, great pacing, a great story, and stellar performances from a varied and enthusiastic cast make "House of Forbidden Secrets" a tour-de-force of gothic, Italian inspired, sanguinary soaked cinema.
--Scream King Tom