U.K. fear-fare feature The Curse of Hobbes House combines supernatural familial curses with zombie horror to solid effect. Director Juliane Block’s film serves up good characterization and a solid character art for its two protagonist sisters, and plenty of gore effects for good measure.
Those with an aversion to zombie movies because of the overwhelming amount of them in recent years and the resulting burnout for some viewers should take solace in that these glowing-eyed undead are more akin to the 1970s Eurohorror variety, before knockoffs of George Romero ‘s “Living Dead” sequels became all the rage. They are cursed to protect the Hobbes House by rising up and destroying any who would try to change ownership.
After their aunt dies, estranged sisters Jane (Mhairi Calvey), who is one incident away from being homeless, and Jennifer (Makenna Guyler), who is much better off financially and emotionally, travel separately to the titular estate for the reading of the deceased woman’s will, which requires everyone to be present — if someone walks away, its contents can’t be revealed. Also along for the reading are the estate caretaker Naser (Waleed Elgadi) and Jennifer’s boyfriend, Nigel (Kevin Leslie). When the lawyer dies under accidental circumstances, it’s only the beginning of bad news for the foursome, as the centuries-old curse takes hold, trapping them in the house as the undead shamble toward them to hold up their end of the occult bargain to which they are tied.
The screenplay by Wolf-Peter Arand — with Block receiving a story credit — offers strong characterization for Jane and Jennifer, with Naser receiving the most interesting backstory and also being the most intriguing character of the bunch. Nigel is written and performed as more of a mustache-twirling type of villain, but Leslie throws himself into the role and makes the most of it. Calvey and Guyler are both impressive, having the difficult chore of playing borderline unlikeable characters for a good deal of the running time. Elgadi shines in his supporting role.
Block does a fine job at the helm, emphasizing familial tension early on to invest the characters with being more than just potential zombie victims and delivering suspense and gruesome set pieces aplenty. The practical effects and gore makeup work are well rendered.
Though the expected beats are all on display in The Curse of Hobbes House, the film offers plenty of fright-fare entertainment and some nice performances. It’s a nice twist to have the cursed creatures be a cross between vengeful spirits and zombies.
The Curse of Hobbes House, from 4Digital Media, is now available on DVD and Digital download in the U.K.