House On Cuckoo Lane - House On Cuckoo Lane(DVD) [SRS Cinema - 2021]
House On Cuckoo Lane is an ultra-low budget stab at the whole cursed videotape genre. It’s a British film set in the world of cult horror film collectors, and it’s has a creepy enough atmosphere, a few neat jumps, and some effective enough moments of gore. Here on SRS Cinema is a region free DVD of the film- featuring directors commentary and a few other extras.
Released in 2014 House On Cuckoo Lane was the third feature-length film from David Hinds, who started off his career with the rather neat micro-budget slasher Garden Tool Massacre( also released by SRS Cinema) in 1997. He directs, co-writes and stars in House On Cuckoo Lane- and while it’s clear it's a very small budgeted film, Hanes does the best with what he has. Sure there are a few pacing issues here and there, and it feels around twenty minutes too long, but on the whole, it’s a good addition to the cursed videotape genre, and it’s nice to see a British take on the form.
The film centres around Shaun Costello(Hinds) who has an impressive collection of rare and odd films, as well as some neat pre certs videotapes. He’s read about The House On Cuckoo Road- an experimental film that was made by a group of occultists in the ’70s. The film is meant to be highly troubling/ disturbing and is rumoured to feature real snuff footage. Of course, this is clearly based on 1973’s The Last House on Dead End Street aka Cuckoo Clocks In Hell- which of course in the ’80s was thought as a snuff film.
As the film goes on Shaun obsession grows and grows- he tries one tape trader after another, then one night he dreams about an abandoned house in the countryside- where a group of animal masked figures are dwelling. Days go by and he suddenly finds the house and hidden inside is the tape…he plays it, and features footage of the mask figures carrying out rituals, decaying animals, disturbing flash imagery, and what looks like a woman been killed. Fairly soon he starts to get more nightmares and seeing weird people- cutting their arms, cut-up rabbits ritually, etc.
As a cult film geek I first got sucked in by Hinds impressive collection, and then the plot it’s self- he’s a passable enough actor, and some of the other collectors are fairly convincing too. The film atmosphere nicely builds- with things getting slowly but surely more skewed and unsettling. Along the way we get some effective jump scares, the abandoned house setting is good, and the masked figures do some nicely freaky/ unsettling things, and we nicely move towards a fairly downbeat and gory finale.
The film features a neat enough score- that moves between creepily dramatic keyboard scoring, onto cold-to-gloomy electronics and beat-scapes, sludgy doom workouts, and moments of ambient unease. The whole thing is filmed well enough for a low budget film, though a few of the cursed tape images feel maybe a little too modern for their supposed 70’s origin. All in all House On Cuckoo Lane is another worthy release from Hinds, and I do hope there’s more coming up from him on SRS Cinema.
Moving onto the extras on the DVD, and first up we get a commentary track with director/ writer David Hinds, and soundtrack composer/ actor Jamie Richardson. This is a nice chatty affair- with the pair talking about how the project came about growing from a drama short, moving onto discuss the films making/ production in general. They talk about VHS collecting, Video nasties, shot set-ups, etc. All making an enjoyable and worthy track, which stands as one of the better director commentaries- as it’s totally free of ego. We get the full The House On Cuckoo Lane film- which runs thirty-three minutes and best described as a blend of a tame The Last House on Dead End Street and gritty colour Begotten. There’s also the full soundtrack on the disc, and of trailers.
So, in finishing- if you enjoy gritty looking & low-budget curse filmed focused horror, and/ or rare horror film collecting you’ll most certainly get a real kick out of House On Cuckoo Lane.Roger Batty