Chemical Burn // 2010 // 69 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // March 18th, 2011
"Now how did he manage that? How did he turn a Christian that came to complain into a voyeuristic lesbian?"
House of Sin is what happens when sexploitation cinema goes terribly wrong. Instead of titillating the audience, it instead only evokes pity. I genuinely felt sad for all involved in this debacle, and actually felt pretty depressed by the time the final credits started to roll. Having only just gotten over The Widower, a film I felt sure would be the worst DVD I had the misfortune of reviewing in 2011, House of Sin swooped in unexpectedly as surely the worst film I have ever seen.
The screenplay is just a succession of scenes comprising of either Paul (Nik Spencer) moaning about his lot in life (usually by way of voiceover) or young women bouncing around naked; occasionally, just to spice things up, we even get both at the same time. There is barely a tangible plot to be found. In the interests of fairness, the film is about "The Mage" (John Symes), who owns a house where people come to live out their sexual fantasies. The Mage also appears to have some form of supernatural power, and can seemingly make people do his bidding. Paul, who acts as The Mage's right-hand man, comes to question the goings on in the house, asking why apparently normal people would come here to be degraded sexually. That's pretty much it. There's no real purpose to any of it, and no final twist to make you reevaluate the film.
The acting is just...well, let's put it like this: If you can't even convincingly spank a lady's bare behind, then you've no right being in front of a camera. Only a few of the cast are trusted to deliver any dialogue, and each offers a pathetic reading. The screenplay offers no depth to the characters, with Paul -- the film's antihero -- frequently offering up his banal musings on the state of mankind ("Does mankind really have the ability to be free? Don't we just end up abusing everything anyway?"). It's laughable twaddle, or at least it would be if it weren't such a chore to get through 69 minutes of this garbage. The direction is notable by its absence. Philip Gardiner (also responsible for the screenplay), along with Nik Spencer and John Symes, took on directing and camera duties; sadly none amongst this trio demonstrates any natural talent for filmmaking. There's little thought given to the choice of shot used, while they were seemingly happy for the actors to have full control over their roles. The whole production lacks direction. Whole segments are made up of naked women dancing in front of the camera, and it's most reminiscent of the 10-minute preview you get on adult channels where naked women entice you to sign up. At least I assume so; I wouldn't know about such things, obviously. The editing is comical, and suggests someone wanted to try out as many of the fun-looking plug-ins on their PCs video editing software as possible. The result is a cheap-looking film that only served to give further rise to my hatred of it.
The picture is on the soft side, while darker shots often suffer from noise and poor black levels. The audio offers a flat mix, and has wildly varying volume levels from one shot to the next. The disc contains a short "making of," which in reality is just a few shots taken from behind the scenes.
I've no idea what the intention or point of House of Sin is, but its incompetence is second to none. I suspect the distribution company was only too aware of how bad the film is, as the DVD cover art is absolutely not representative of the product it advertises at all. Neither the house, nor the actors on the cover, are in the film. It's certainly close to being false advertising, as rather than the The Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Eyes Wide Shut combination suggested, we have over an hour of reflections on the human condition dressed up with naked young women cavorting about.
House of Sin has the dubious honor of being awarded the lowest score I could justifiably give it (any points were basically for the DVD working). Trust me when I say this isn't hyperbole. Of the thousands of films in my DVD collection, which contains some absolute stinkers, to all the dross I've sat through on late night TV or with friends, I have never seen anything so confused, so pointless, and so without merit as House of Sin. At the time of writing, House of Sin was not listed on IMDb. Let's hope it stays that way.
Do you really have to ask?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Chemical Burn
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 69 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site