House of Screaming Glass Is the Slowest of Slow Burns

Photo courtesy of DeskPop Entertainment

I’m not going to lie and tell you that I went into House of Screaming Glass expecting a masterpiece. While the premise sounded pretty good, I thought the trailer was just okay, so I really didn’t know what to expect from this film. Would it end up being my new favorite movie of the year? Was it going to make me want to throw a shoe at my TV? Or would it land somewhere in between? I had no idea, but since I’m always on the lookout for hidden genre gems, I couldn’t wait to find out.

House of Screaming Glass was directed and co-written by David Williams, and it stars Lani Call as Elizabeth, a woman who receives an unexpected inheritance when her mother dies. She’s now the owner of her late grandmother’s schoolhouse (I guess you could say it’s a bit of a family heirloom), but this apparent blessing is really a heinous curse in disguise.

Soon after Elizabeth arrives at the place, she begins to experience bizarre visions and potentially supernatural phenomena, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. She also learns that her grandmother was a witch, and when she starts to practice the dark arts as well, that path ultimately leads to the woman’s downfall (quite literally!).

On paper, that sounds like a really interesting idea for a horror film, but unfortunately, the execution in House of Screaming Glass is not up to par. In particular, as the title of this review suggests, I just found this film to be way too slow, and coming from me, that’s saying a lot.

I’m a fan of slow-burn horror. Whether it’s decades-old classics like Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining or 21st-century gems like The House of the Devil and Saint Maud, I don’t mind movies that take their sweet time getting to the “good stuff.” In fact, I love being forced to stew in my own anticipation of the horrific payoff I know is coming, but House of Screaming Glass is on a whole other level. And not in a good way.

A woman looking scared
Photo courtesy of DeskPop Entertainment

House of Screaming Glass doesn’t just have a slow plot. It’s slow in every respect, creating an almost maddening experience. For instance, Elizabeth talks very slowly, she often moves at an agonizing pace, and, most egregiously, the camera almost always lingers on shots way longer than it should.

To take just one example, there’s a scene where Elizabeth is playing the piano, and while it’s probably only a few minutes, it feels like it goes on for about five hours. Not only is Elizabeth playing a very repetitive song that sounds like it’s the same three notes over and over (although it’s actually a bit more varied than that), but the camera just lingers on her, forcing you to sit there and wait for something to happen.

To be fair, the film does eventually give you that payoff, but it takes way too long to get there. Like I said, it feels like you’re just watching Elizabeth play this song for hours, so by the time something pops up to disturb her, you’d be hard-pressed to still have any interest in the scene.

That’s just one example, but the rest of House of Screaming Glass crawls along at an equally snail-like pace. And as you can probably guess, that makes for a frustratingly tedious viewing experience. If I’m being honest, I have to say that I found the persistent lack of haste to be just about unwatchable, so it completely killed the movie for me.

That being said, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. While I didn’t enjoy House of Screaming Glass overall, there are some things in it that I thought were pretty well done. For starters, we have Lani Call’s performance as Elizabeth. Aside from a couple of moments here and there, Elizabeth is the only person in this entire movie, so Call has to carry it all by herself.

And she’s pretty good. Granted, I wouldn’t quite say I was wowed by her, but she’s more than adequate. I never felt like she was just an actor reading lines, and when Elizabeth starts her descent into supernatural madness, Call really nails the emotionless vibe her character takes on.

On top of that, House of Screaming Glass boasts some impressive visuals. The opening scene features a fun gore effect, and the makeup used on Lani Call as the story goes on is quite convincing. But hands down, the best visual in this entire movie is a spellbook Elizabeth finds as she’s going through her grandmother’s stuff.

It looks almost like an exact replica of the Necronomicon from the original Evil Dead trilogy, and as a huge fan of those films, I got a real kick out of that design. What’s more, the illustrations in this book are super creepy, so for a few seconds, it even made me forget about all my problems with the movie.

But it was only a few seconds, so as the camera continued to linger, I quickly remembered my big gripe with this film. It’s just too slow, and that ruined the experience for me. To be fair, I know there are a lot of people who enjoy that filmmaking style, and if you’re one of them, you should give this movie a shot. But for the rest of you, I don’t think you’re going to find much to enjoy about House of Screaming Glass, so I suggest giving it a pass.

House of Screaming Glass was released on VOD and DVD on May 21.

House of Screaming Glass Poster
Photo courtesy of DeskPop Entertainment

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong movie fan, and his favorite genres are horror, superheroes, and giant monsters.

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