Taking an all too familiar plot and making it feel fresh and interesting isn’t an easy thing to do, but director Stuart Stone manages to pull it off with The Haunted House on Kirby Road. The familiar tale of a group of friends deciding to party in a haunted house is given some new twists and an energetic approach from the cast and crew. The result is a film much better than the plot summary would lead you to believe.
The film seems to be very loosely inspired by the urban legend of ghostly activity on Kirby Road in Ontario, (the town name varies in tales). The film begins with with some text on the screen “Although it may seem like a good time, getting stoned and going to a haunted house is never a good idea” before going to a video of two guys doing just that before running afoul of something off screen. After seeing this video on YouTube the guys decide this would be a great place to take some female friends and try to get lucky. Of course the legend turns out to be true and getting lucky now means getting out alive.
One of the big advantages the film has over others like it is the script makes the lead up to the horror enjoyable and at least somewhat believable. From a funny scene involving buying condoms for the first time to trying to convince a suspicious cop that nothing’s going on there’s things most viewers can identify with. And the interplay between stoned geek/virgin Lucky (Andrew Pimento) and Zoe (Samantha Cole) is quite funny while the conversation between Drew (Chris Kapeleris) and Jordan (Nina Kiri) feels quite real.
Once the ghost makes an appearance things quickly get creepy. The ghost can not only kill you but possess your corpse and use it to kill, which makes matters a bit more complicated. The film trades over the top violence for shocks and suspense with a bit of gore. There’s several good jump scares and edge of the seat moments to keep you wound up till the end. Granted you’ll see the final scene coming a mile away, but that seems to be true of most genre films these days.
The Haunted House on Kirby Road has done well on the festival circuit, winning for Best Director and Best Cinematography at the 2016 Cineview Film Festival and Best Horror Feature at this year’s Toronto Independent Film Festival and it deserves those wins. Available via iTunes now, it will be playing Super Channel in Canada in December before coming to Canadian DVD in early January.