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Movie Review


MPAA Rating: R for some violence and terror.

Reviewed by: Angela Bowman

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Horror, Thriller, Drama
1 hr. 41 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
November 7, 2008
DVD: April 7, 2009
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Jesus Christ: His Identity, Life, Death and Resurrection
Featuring: Michael Madsen—“Reservoir Dogs,” “Kill Bill” Vol. 1 and 2, “Sin City

Reynaldo Rosales—“She Hates Me,” “Homeland Security”

Heidi Dippold—“NCIS,” “Alias”, “The Sopranos”

Julie Ann Emery—“Hitch,” “Commander in Chief,” “ER”

Bill Moseley—“The Devil’s Rejects,” “House of a 1000 Corpses”

Allana Bale, J.P. Davis, Jeffrey de Graft-Johnson, Pawel Delag, Leslie Easterbrook, Mark Fierer, Joe Goodman, Andrew Gorzen, Holly McClure, Bobby Neutz, Albert Pietrzak, Weronika Rosati, Florentyna Synowiecka, Lew Temple
Director: Robby Henson
Thr3e” (2006), “The Visitation” (2006)
Producer: Ted Dekker
Thr3e” (2007)

Frank Peretti
The Visitation

Ralph Winter, Wojtek Frykowski, Joe Goodman, Bobby Neutz, Kelly Neutz, Daniel Russell, Marek Sledziewski, Michael Webber
Distributor: Roadside Attractions / Lions Gate Films Home

“The only way out… is in.”

“House” is based on the novel by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. It centers around a young couple, Jack (Reynaldo Rosales) and Stephanie (Heidi Dippold), who are in a troubled marriage, and on their way to counseling, who end up stranded in a rural area. The young couple happens upon the Wayside Inn. They enter to find the house empty, save another couple in the same predicament (Randy, played by J.P. Davis and Leslie, played by Julie Ann Emery). But just as their nerves are beginning to settle, the host family returns and the nightmare really begins. The four houseguests are forced to face inner struggles brought to life, while trapped in a maze of a “haunted house” that has a mind of it’s own, hunted by the Master of the House, who has set out three house rules.

  • Rule #1: God came into my house, and I killed him.
  • Rule #2: I will kill anyone who comes into my house, as I killed God.
  • Rule #3: Give me one dead body before sunrise, and I may let Rule #2 slide.

It appears that the only way out is for one of them to die.

“House” is definitely not a family film, and I would have to agree with the “R” rating it has received. Along with the elements of terror, it contains adult themes, satanic references and symbols and a good deal of violence and death, including violence using guns and knives. One of the female characters wears a low-cut dress revealing cleavage. While she is at the inn with one man, she flirts with Jack, who is married. She is portrayed as promiscuous, due to a past traumatic experience that plays out in the film, and there is one scene in which they start to kiss, however he does not follow through. Another scene that one might find particularly troubling is of a young boy shooting another person. The characters who are possessed by demons have black smoking coming from them, and, in some cases, their eyes glaze over showing the demons beneath, and there are multiple satanic symbols.

Technically speaking, this film was quite impressive for a lower-budget production (estimated at $2,500,000). While there were a few obviously “fake” scenes, overall, the special effects that the story called for were very good. Unfortunately, this is the only positive quality I could find with this movie, because everything else about it was very disturbing.

Trying to give the production the benefit of the doubt, I considered that “House” was made as a secular film and not a Christian film, however whether or not one labels this a Christian film, it still has the same problems from a Christian standpoint.

First of all is the general darkness of the film. The images of violence and murder made me think upon Philippians 4:8, that we are to think about things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, whatever is admirable, and, from that standpoint, I can’t help but wonder how God would feel about entertainment that brings down the spirit and leaves a person with disturbing images and thoughts.

However, while some may be able to overlook this aspect, I simply cannot overlook the second, which is the satanic element. There are a few satanic symbols shown, the most prevalent being the Church of Satan symbol, which is the inverted pentagram and goat’s head, and it is made very clear that the evil forces are satanic. The problem with this is that, while the evil element is very clear, the good element is not clear at all, and, in explanation, I am afraid that I have to give away an important piece of the ending. The good element is portrayed by a young girl, who dies and becomes a light that destroys the evil. As Christians, we may assume that this is supposed to be a representative of Jesus Christ, however this is never made clear in the film. And while you might argue that it is allegorical, then I must ask why the evil is not as well. If there is a battle with Satan clearly on one side, then we must have Jesus clearly on the other side. 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us that Satan can appear to be an angel of light, so the fact that this girl turns into light means nothing, and Ephesians 6:10-18, which speaks of spiritual warfare, tells us that our weapon against Satan is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

While scripture regarding light and darkness is mentioned, the film does not further explain this, and, in fact, it is quite literally the light within the girl that overcomes the satanic darkness. Of further concern, some people believe in feminine gods, and therefore could justify their beliefs through this film.

The bottom-line is that only Jesus can save us from Satan, because He is the one who defeated Satan. It is not a girl or a light; it is Jesus.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

Also see our Christian Film News™ article—“House”—Dekker and Peretti’s horror/thriller receives theatrical release

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I am a full-time pastor and earnest student of scripture, and I found this film fantastic! I have no understanding why the reviewer of this film rated it the way that he did. First of all the movie had one mild cuss word in it, h_ll, and the violence was very mild (in comparison to many of our PG 13 movies).

One must understand that this movie was a movie full of symbols, and was extremely allegorical. No different then Narnia or the Lord of the Rings, if anything there was a stronger line of spirituality in this movie than many Ive seen. I will not spoil the movie for those who have not seen it, but I will tell you, if you are spiritual and can see the symbols in allegorical movies, I highly recommend it! Keep in mind however, as I watched this movie I was entertained, but it wasn’t until its end that it all came together. Awesome ending!

(As for some other reviewers, my wife and I hate cussing, and this movie was a breath of fresh air!)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Shane Mason, age 30 (USA)
Positive—I thought it was good for adults and mature teens. Young children should not see it without an adult, it was pretty scary for most parts, but not the whole thing. There was nothing bad about it, because it’s a Christian movie and book, I enjoyed the book and movie. The book was based on what your heart feels and looks like, and how to be strong in your faith and believe that all things happen for the good. I really liked it!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Mike, age 24
Positive—PEOPLE!! that movie was awesome! I love the contrast of good and evil—light and dark. Dekker and Peretti are masters! They painted a picture of desperation and evil and then after there was no way they could get out themselves, showed them the light—an angel.

Now to everybody who made negative comments I have one little remark. The main argument was that it was dark and violent. And I think it was the main article that mentioned Philippians 4:8 talking about good, pure and righteous things. If we are going to apply that logic to this movie or any movie for that matter, we should do it to everything—the Bible included. The Bible is filled with disturbing violent things. For example: David killing Goliath with a rock and then chopping his head off, Jael killing Sisera with a tent peg through his head… I could go on and on. Just because it’s violent doesn’t mean its bad.

I think the overall theme was good and had a good message, if somewhat cloaked. Non-christians will watch this movie unlike “Fireproof” or something like that.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jonathan, age 18 (USA)
Positive—…This film is about purgatory, about a judgment in which Satan is in control, much like the turmoil Job underwent. But Satan is only in control for a time, and “House” reflects that concept extremely well. This isn’t supposed to be a verse by verse depiction of Biblical events. This is much like Narnia. After all, is Christ a lion?

This movie needs to be given a chance, and yes it is different from the book in many ways. One being there is an actual ending, unlike the confused finale of the book. An awesome movie and one which mature Christians should give a chance. Don’t give it to your young kids, but your teens will probably love it.

Not every film should be brightness and light. There are darker spiritual elements in life of which Christians need to be made aware. But what counts is that God triumphs in the end. There is no other way to read the film finale and I for one, praise God for his gift of insight and creativity to Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Carissa, age 25 (USA)
Positive—Wow! I’ve been wanting to see this film ever since I read the book, about 2 years ago. At the end, it’s pretty clear that Pereti and Dekker are trying to portray Christ, and how He died for us, but in the movie, it isn’t as clear unless you’ve read the book. There is one 'What the h***?'. And Leslie wears a skimpy dress that reveals stuff that doesn’t need to be revealed. Overall, the movie was great. For being rated R, and never seeing a scary movie in my life, I only jumped once. Its not the Hollywood scare, it’s just a different kind. I’m probably not making myself clear. But I’d advise the movie, if you’ve read the book, and understand the ending.

Oh, and the last shot of the movie… WOW! It was amazing! It gave me chills!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Elizabeth, age 26 (USA)
Positive—I did not agree with the review of this movie. I am the youth pastor of our church and as a matter of fact, I plan to show this film at our Halloween lock-in. I thought it had a powerful message about how our own sins can keep us trapped until we turn to the Son of God to set us free. I did agree with one of the negative reviews of the film in that if someone is watching it who is a non-Christian, they will need some guidance on getting the message from it. Admittedly, a bold and clear-cut message is not apparent. I personally plan to have a devotional time with our teens following the film to help them to see the message.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Mike, age 34 (USA)
Neutral—My husband and I read the book that this movie portrays. So, naturally we watched the movie as well. The book (as always) is way better than the movie. We have to admit that the gospel message was not as obvious as it was in the book. It seems the movie producers watered down the gospel message quite a bit. It wasn’t clear, as it was in the book, that the characters needed to get saved to overcome the sin inside of them. In the movie it is not clear that the characters got saved and that is why they were able to overcome the darkness. Whereas in the book, it is clear.

The reason satanic images are used is to make it clear to the viewer that satan is at work within the house. The creator of this story is not glorifying or endorsing satanism by using these images. Although the images are disturbing, they are used to make a point that satan is the one at work in our lives when we don’t have Christ as our Savior. Dekker (the story’s author) merely used these symbols to make a point.

We have to admit that we were overall disappointed with the movie. The gospel message was watered down; and it was not made clear as the only answer for the characters dilemma and sinful state. The book’s message was clear that salvation from sin is only found it Christ, but the movie definitely did not get this across—it only hinted at it.

The movie could have been powerful had the gospel message been obvious and blunt. We realize that fellow well-known Christians have complained that we should not make the gospel message obvious in a movie because it comes across as “cheesy.” But, my husband and I strongly disagree. We have watched movies (even one recently—“Fireproof”) where the gospel was clearly and bluntly presented, but in a very creative way, and it was very powerful. Maybe Dekker, the creator of this story, was following the advice of not making the gospel clear when he made this movie. Or maybe in order to make the movie, he felt he had to. The movie could have had the power to change lives had the message of Christ been made clear.

We recommed reading the novel “House” instead of seeing the movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Stephanie, age 31
Negative—I just rented this movie today. All I can say is this movie did not have a clear salvation message in it. It did have a few Scriptures, but no clear way pointing to Christ. If this was meant for the unsaved to see this film, then it fails miserably. It is not even a scary movie compared to other horror films.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—John T, age 43 (USA)
Negative—Films like HOUSE are the reason that I avoid most “Christian” films. I knew what to expect the moment that the cheesy opening credits started to roll. This film steals from every classic horror film imaginable, from THE SHINING to DELIVERANCE. The film showcases perfect examples of bad pacing and editing, acting and direction. The people behind this film have obviously never been classically trained in the art of filmmaking. The whole exercise looks like an amateur music video. It’s not even close to being scary. The story isn’t all that interesting. In fact, it was quite boring.

In other words, why don’t you skip this film, and rent a REAL horror film, from a competent filmmaker, like Stanley Kubrick, for instance. It may not be what you would call a “Christian” film (whatever that is), but at least it would be worth watching instead of this.

Oh, and don’t let that R rating fool you. It’s still as squeaky clean and unrealistic as it can possibly get. This film presents several situations of people being tormented by killers and demons, and the most that anybody can muster up is “Darn!” or “Oh, heck.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Steven Adam Renkovish, age 26 (USA)
Negative—First off, as a Film student, I must admit for the budget, the cinematography and special effects are fairly decent, no major complaints here. Aside from that, this movie is a waste. I LOVED the book, one of my favorites, but this movie is not worth watching. My first complaint is the movie poster had a picture of a door with the Satanic Pentagram. Sorry, your movie poster represents your film, we learned this really early on. I do not see how someone who is Christian can feel OK staring at the symbols portrayed on the walls. I do not think the movie deserved it’s R rating, necesarrily, but I will not be recommending it either way.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Tommy, age 20 (USA)
Comments from young people
Negative—From what I’ve heard of the movie it is definitely one centered in evil. It sounds like a warped version of the book, also very dark, but with a strong relation to the darkness we as humans face. The book is very symbolic of the life we live in with Satan before we give our lives to Christ. The books very scary with a positive message at the end.

I would reccomend staying away from the movie, but if you feel neccessary to indulge in something creepy, check out the book where there is a clear line between pure evil and scary Christian metaphores.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Alyssa, age 15
Positive—I am 14 years old, and I think I understand this movie more than you do. I’m not trying to be rude or anything but it seems you expected this movie to be full of preachyness like “Fireproof” or “Left Behind.” It’s not any of those movies. This movie wasn’t made for Christians in mind. It was made for the lost. The people who delight themselves in this type of darkness not understanding what the darkness is actually doing to them.

You questioned the fact that you didn’t understand who Susan was. That was simple… and I’m 14 and only been a Christian since I was 11. Susan was portraying the light of Jesus. When Jesus walked the Earth he also talked about light destroying darkness but no one around him but his disciples understood what he was referring to. They called him a blasphemer (sp?) and then killed him for it, but his death was a sacrifice that he gave to let the light out and destroy the darkness that was sin. Sin WAS death, but with Jesus’s sacrifice we are able to live eternaly with Him. That is what Susan did. We didn’t have to play the game sin makes us play but we need to seek the light. Jack and Stephanie understood that after Susan was shot… just like humanity understood Jesus after he was crusified.

It’s not a hard concept to understand. You just need to pay attention. I had a friend watch this with me, and he’s an Atheist, and he understood it like I did, without me having to explain anything. He thought it was cool how they put that into the story so well. I’m taking a guess that you think too much with your head in the clouds. If you opened your eyes then maybe you’ll understand. You need to take away the bubble that you’ve created for yourself. That’s why non-Christians hate Christians so much today is because Christians put themselves in bubbles and point out the “dirty” people outside the bubble. God breaks out bubbles and pushes us outside our comfort zones and into the fires so he can refine us so we shine and are seen more pure that much more. This movie is what is doing that. Pushing the Christian entertainment culture out of its comfort zone and to the people it needs to reach. We need to stop making only movies that reach clean families and start making honest portrails of our culture and what they are interested in and reach them from there. I’m not saying having a drink with them at a bar while preaching, but being honest with them. Including the honesty of evil and what it does to people. We need to reach people on an individual basis before we reach the families. We’re putting too much on ourselves that way.

“House” is for the lost… not the found. It’s for the people still in the darkness that need to know what the light is. If you want a movie that’s catered to the already saved, watch “Fireproof.” It has enough sappy and preachy moments to fill several Sundays. “House” is in the trenches for the people you seemed to have given up on. This just isn’t from your post alone but from a lot of posts from a lot of different sites. …I am only pointing out what is wrong with our Christian culture today. And remember… I’m only 14 and haven’t been a Christian that long, raised by my older brother. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Isaac Miller, age 14
Positive—I saw this movie with my friends (all 16), and we would rate this either a PG movie. It is not at all scary! And there is positive stuff in this movie. To understand it, you have to READ all of Ted Dekker’s books. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Daniel Kastner, age 16
Positive—Having read the book, I was anticipating this film for three years. After several go-arounds in theaters, as well as many false DVD release dates, I finally grabbed a copy at my local Wal-Mart. I can truthfully say I was overall disappointed, but only because the movie strays so far from the book that they are nearly unrelated. I suggest reading the book first, 1) because it’s better and 2) because you will get the spiritual message that is no where to be found in the movie.

For all its failures, “House” is actually a pretty well constructed—if low budget—horror film. It has several good scares, better-than-would-be-expected acting and some great cinematography. It’s a little too obvious that Michael Madsen is the Tin Man (why else would such an actor be here), which is unfortunate for the “twist” ending provided in the book.

This film is rated-R, which I’m not exactly sure how it managed to get (possibly for the dark and disturbing undertone of the film), but keep children away. It is a little much for them, but 14 and up should be fine.

For all it strives to be, “House” comes short, but for a one-night popcorn movie, it’s worth it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Ben Badger, age 17 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
…I have not seen this movie and have no desire too. I read the book, though, because I enjoy many of Frank Peretti’s books. However, as I was reading it, I found it—for lack of a better word—weird. The whole concept of the book was just weird. And some people might find it disturbing. Four people trapped in a basement with a killer after them and the killer’s sidekicks?? Okay, I appreciated that lack of foul language (at least, I don’t remember any) and no sexual content. But the main reason I am labeling this “negative” is how does it truly have a Christian storyline? Couldn’t they do a better job making the message of Christ more obvious? This is all referring to the book storyline, not the movie, since I haven’t seen it. To me, it was like they labeled it “Christian” and squeezed in a pathetic attempt for a gospel message. Now, I know it is not supposed to be a movie like “Fireproof” or “Facing the Giants,” but surely someone must agree that the message could have been clearer. I finished the book with a frown. “That was it?” I was disappointed with the book, because throughout the entire story I was hoping for a really good ending. Boy, was I wrong. I just think that the Gospel message should have been clearer, not pathetically squeezed in.
—Vicki, age 15 (USA)
…I have not seen the movie (yet); I greatly look forward to it. I’ve read the book… For those of [you] pounding Frank and Ted (I know you’re out there!!), don’t knock it till you try it. They are very good at what they do!!
—Wendy, age 15 (USA)
I haven’t seen the movie, but I have read the book. I would think the movie to be really good, if it is like the book, which it sounds to me like it is. I don’t think I can see the movie because of its rating, but I always thought it would makea good movie even with all of the violence. Frank Perretti and Ted Dekker both have great books and a lot of them would make great movies. As for my ratings above, I thought it would probably be good and at least a 3 if I had seen it.
—Alexia, age 13 (USA)