Masters of Horror: Dreams in the Witch House

Perhaps I set myself up for this, perhaps the first episode just had me on this orgasmic euphoric high only set to be lowered by anything. Director Stuart Gordon of “Re-Animator” takes center stage this time in the second episode of the series with an entertaining albeit disappointing installment based on HP Lovecraft’s story of the same name. I’ve never read a story from Lovecraft, but I know he’s an immense influence for many horror masters that borrow the elements from his story for their own. Gordon manages to create a very entertaining installment for Masters of Horror that’s sometimes surreal, many times whimsical and all times filled with dread.

Ezra Godden gives a good performance Walter a young college student studying physics looking to work on his paper involving intersecting universes, and moves in to a large building where he takes residence in a small room. His room happens to be built in the design he’s building his thesis on and now forms an obsession upon the design but has no real idea he’s become an obsession for a ghoul hidden within the home using him as a vessel for her evil plan. Gordon’s foray in to this new installment is an utterly surreal bit of storytelling with imagery that is often mind-blowing from a weird rat that has a human face, to a witch who marks the men she uses as vessels to a graveyard of skulls within the ground, Gordon pays homage to Lovecraft in the only way he can, and supplies one truly fucked piece that makes it entertaining and odd. Gordon never skimps on the imagery as far as the mini-film goes, and with very¬† competent directing, supplies it whole hog.

With some brilliant special effects from Greg Nicotero, it helps had a sense of genuine dread to what’s taking place during the film, and Godden gives a very effective performance as the main character attempting to form some sense of logic to a completely outlandish situation and doesn’t realize he’s slowly growing insane as time goes on. In the end, Gordon plays the ultimate trick on us with one sick climax, and I was pleased. Dreams for what it offers in terms of surrealism and pure kinetic tension us ultimately incredibly dull and lifeless. I wanted to know what was happening and why, but the way the story is play with its surprisingly predictable manner made it so ho hum and dull in the end.

The film is truly lifeless and uninteresting and Gordon trades what could be a tense bit of horrifying imagery for the utterly goofy and twisted. Though Gordon exercised such themes in “Re-Animator”, I was hoping for a much more layered and dread filled piece of story telling but for what Gordon offers, it becomes truly anti-climactic especially with a not so surprising twist ending. “Dreams in the Witch House” is a mediocre installment with an entertaining and often odd narrative with Gordon who gives us some surreal imagery and foreboding dread, but it fails to be as potentially brilliant as it could be with a dull premise and a too goofy approach to Lovecraft.