House of 9 (2005)

Nine people wake up in a big house and learn they must play a game, in which the last one alive gets out with $5 million.

Genre – Thriller

Director(s) – Steven R. Monroe

Writer(s) – Philippe Vidal

Cast – Dennis Hopper, Kelly Brook, Hippolyte Girardot, Peter Capaldi, Raffaello Degruttola, Ashley Walters

Blue Rider’s Role – Arranged bridge financing

Distributor(s) – Bauer Martinez Studios, Visual Entertainment, Columbia TriStar Home Video (Australia), e-m-s the DVD-Company (Germany)

Release Date – 2005

Synopsis – Nine people are kidnapped and imprisoned inside a big mansion. A voice tells them that only one will leave this place alive, but that person will win $5 million. Meanwhile, the owner of the voice will enjoy watching them kill each other. Present are a young dancer, a priest (Dennis Hopper), a cynical French music composer and his wife, a gay fashion designer, a runaway, a glamorous former tennis star, a cop and a resentful rapper. Things gets volatile right away, and the captor is in for plenty of entertainment via his many cameras.

Release Data:
It bowed at the 2004 Cannes Film Market, had a limited U.S. run in June 2005 and had DVD premieres in U.K., Spain and Australia in Summer 2005. It is due to premiere on Italian DVD on March 9, 2009 and it appears on U.S. cable in 2009.

Critics’ Kudos: 
Slasherpool review by “Anthro Fred”: “The story basically takes the best parts from Battle Royale, Cube and My Little Eye and mixes them into one really good horror thriller with a different twist to it. You will be blown away by the incredibly clever ending.

“The movie is by rookie director Steven R. Monroe, and he sure managed to impress me. There is just enough ‘cam footage’ to give it that reality kick, and there are some very original angles in here. Most of the characters
are pretty easy to root for. The acting is really good and Kelly Brook shows us what a true
scream queen she really is. Overall these actors went above and beyond.

“What a mixed soundtrack! We get rock music, hip-hop, beautiful piano music and very atmosphere- setting opera music. This score gets an A+ from me.

“House Of 9 definitely surpassed my expectations, it is entertaining as hell and it’s probably this years’ most clever horror thriller. If you enjoyed movies like Saw, I guarantee that you will find some pleasure in watching this movie. I can definitely recommend this one.”

David Anandale, Upcoming Discs: “Taut, dark and worth seeing. A lethal variation on reality TV shows like Big Brother. The pace is good, and there are a couple of surprises in the script.

“The music is spectacular, with very spooky echoes reverberating around the room. The image is extremely sharp: every pore on the taut faces is visible. The colours are cold but very strong. The blacks are superb.”

Alex Riviello:Creature Corner: “A tight little thriller with a great ending. It’s really well made. The actors, except for Dennis Hopper and Kelly Brook, are all unknowns, and they’re all pretty good. All of them work really well off each other, and the way they deal with everything makes a ridiculous situation seem pretty realistic.

“The film’s shot decently too. There’s some interesting jump-cutting that makes you wonder just what’s going on–and there are a lot of times that you’ll be seeing the action from the point of view of the grainy black and white security cameras that are watching them.

“Too many movies rely on a twist ending that defies logic. House of 9 works much more like a Twilight Zone ending-one that makes you sit back in your chair and go ‘Oh, shit!’ It works perfectly.

“Nice crisp colors. It’s shot really well and the good transfer makes things all the better. The sound’s in Dolby 5.1. The soundtrack does a good job of making the characters feel isolated… with some sporadic music that mostly fits the scenes.”

Dread Central review: “There’s a fine line between inspiration and imitation, and while it is near impossible to not draw comparisons between this film and Saw, you may not want to cross this puppy off of your lists just yet. House of 9 does deliver the derivative goods, but it also stands on its own as a well-made, well-acted, and truly intense little thriller.
The main difference between this film and Saw is its approach to the subject matter. Saw concentrated heavily on unique ways to be tortured and die and also on its killer’s motivations. House of 9 goes down a more cerebral path. The emphasis here is on the relationships among the folks found in this situation. There are no elaborate traps, and they only have one direct communication between themselves and their host. People have a tendency to fall apart in desperate situations.

“House’s characters are all strong. There are no weaklings. Everybody can and will take care of themselves. The breakdown of their psyche is deliberate and stirring.

“Director Steven R. Monroe makes great use of his camera, pulling out just about every stylistic camera move there is. Some of the shots are breathtaking in nature. He employs everything from the traditional horror movie low camera angle to amazing one-take tracking shots. From a technical standpoint one cannot help but be impressed. I predict we’re going to be seeing a lot from Monroe. If this is what he can create on a low budget, then I cannot wait to see what he does with a good deal of financial backing.

“Everything about this film is above average, especially the acting. Dennis Hopper is as delightfully subdued as he was in the Romero zombie opus, Land of the Dead, and the rest of the cast turn in some A-list quality performances.

“The writing has a lot to do with that as well. Nobody in the film does anything overtly stupid, and the overall situation is met with gritty realism. The deaths eventually start coming, and when they did, I found myself genuinely surprised by some of our characters’ outcomes. There’s no flashy twist ending here. Just a look at the deprivation and disintegration of the human will.

“House of 9 does what it sets out to do: deliver to its viewers a movie that sucks you in until you cannot breathe. Anyone who watches it will be impressed with how much was done with so little, and some may even find it better than its bigger-budget cousins.”

Scott Weinberg, DVD Talk: “Once the players start getting drunk, aggravated and armed, House of 9 picks up some solid steam. And there’s a kicker in Act III that I really quite enjoyed.”

“Horror Bob,” The Horror Review: “This is a film where each character does not really want to hurt one another, however it’s really all a matter of time until the cabin fever sets in and shit starts to hit the fan. That’s what I love about this kind of film.

“The script is unique in it’s own way. There are some very well-written scenes that coincide with MOS (Music over scene) shots, a lot of them, (which) set the mood for the next scene.

“The acting in this film was pretty decent; each actor did a good job with their role. Dennis Hopper, the best-known actor in this film, was pretty good as the prist, however his irish acent was a bit weird.

“Overall House of 9 was a pretty decent film, with one hell of a surprise ending. It is well worth the rent.”

Scott Lecter, “Steven R. Monroe’s House of 9 is a pretty ambitious, fun little thriller that certainly has its fair share of interesting moments. The cast
has a few interesting highlights and the direction is competent. What makes House of 9 work is the presence of star Dennis Hopper. He brings a quiet confidence to his role as a priest that seems to give the entire
film (and the game contained within) some validity. Kelly Brook certainly looks
nice throughout the film. The rest of the cast is decent.

“Monroe brings a nice visual eye to the production, as the largehouse looks impressive – even though we only see the inside. Monroe manages to make the place look both overwhelmingly large and claustrophobic at the same time.

“Visual Entertainment and Bauer Martinez Distribution do an adequate job of bringing the film to DVD, as they provide a nice, fairly clean anamorphic 1.85:1 image. The Dolby Surround 2.0 track sounds just fine.

“The big twist ending is probably one of the
coolest aspects of the film, so I’d say it’s worth your time to check the film out at least once. Hopper is always fun to watch, Kelly
Brook is definitely cute, and House of 9 does contain fun moments. It’s certainly worth at least a rental.”

Peter Brown, iF Magazine: “A surprisingly good straight-to-DVD thriller — an experiment in claustrophobic paranoia with a lot of Big Brother-type voyeurism mixed in for fun. It’s an assortment of paranoia, scheming, psychosis and downright evil – a good mixture of elements that makes an entertaining movie. While some people may say the film is a bit too Saw-like or copies The Cube concept, there is enough new material here – including an awesome twist ending – which horror and suspense fans will find incredibly enjoyable.”

Matt Compton, Nefarious Film Reviews: “In an interesting reversal of the usual development of these frequently-used ideas, House of 9 opts to tone down the blood and horror leaving a more psychological thriller. No devilish syringe traps, giant ovens or razor boxes are to be found here. In their place is a steadily declining amount of food, steadily increasing room temperature and people simply left to their own paranoia and suspicion. The idea seems to be that deep-down beneath the nicieties of civilisation and polite society, basic human nature is self-serving, brutal and ruthless.

“Kelly Brook turns in a very respectable performance. Dennis Hopper’s performance in this film is fine and uncharacteristically restrained.

“The setting for a film that takes place wholly in one location is important and the location used in this film suits its purpose very well. The house has just the right atmosphere of grandeur offset by a certain ambient weirdness. There are huge murals on the wall depicting nine twisted faces merging into each other, there are no windows and the light is a constant soft neon glow which makes it impossible to tell whether it is day or night out in the real world. The house really does eem to be removed from reality with no chance of escape.

“House of 9 is a pleasing enough diversion which at least tries to do something different with what seems to be becoming a genre within a genre, the bunch-of-people-locked-in-a-house-by-a-total-nutter genre. Catchy title.”

David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews: “Director Steven R. Monroe infuses the movie with an intriguing sense of style [and the] twist ending is admittedly pretty clever.”

MyMMDI Review: “It’s more of a study of the human psyche than a horror film, but I found that it worked out pretty damned nicely.

“Another thing that I liked about this film was the lack of stupid decisions. You won’t see anybody crawl inside of a furnace here, and you certainly won’t see anyone stick their hands inside of an obviously-trapped box. Everything seems so natural; at first, the group decides that they won’t kill anyone, and at the end of the film, there is only one survivor. The way that this film moves from one point to the other is about as close to reality as you can get (given the scenario, of course), and again, this is what makes the film work so well.

“Another highlight of the film that added to the realism was who the survivor turned out to be. The reason for this is simple; as the movie moves along, you’ll probably figure out who you think will survive it, but you’ll be proven wrong a few scenes later. At that point, you’ll say to yourself ‘OK, well then, _____ has to be the one to live,’ and again, you’ll be proven wrong. This makes things so much more interesting, because you become quite intrigued as to who will live after the obvious choices have been knocked off of the list.

“The individual cast members give good performances (especially Dennis Hopper and Ashley Walters).

If you enjoyed Saw, My Little Eye, Cube, or any of the other reality-show/fatal-decisions-type films, you’ll likely enjoy this one as well. It’s not the best of the bunch, but it’s certainly not far behind.”

Viewers’ Ratings:
Of the 2,568 users of the Internet Movie Database who rated House of 9 through Feb. 26, 2009, more than 58.8% of them gave it a positive rating. All demographic groups liked it, and those that were most enthusiastic women 45 and older (rating it 6.8 out of 10), people 17 and younger (6.3) and people 18-29 (5.8).

Major Cast and Crew Credits and Awards: 
Directed by Steven R. Monroe (It Waits, Left in Darkness, The Contract, Sasquatch Mountain).

Written by Philippe Vidal (debut).

Stars Dennis Hopper (Apocalypse Now, True Romance, Cool Hand Luke, Waterworld, Giant, Rebel Without a Cause, Rumble Fish, Red Rock West, Basquiat, True Grit; Oscar nominations for Easy Rider and Hoosiers; won 17 other major awards and 10 nominations for films including Blue Velvet, Speed, Paris Trout and Out of the Blue; 190 other films and TV projects); Kelly Brook (The Italian Job, Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo, Ripper, Three, School for Seduction).

Cast includes Hippolyte Girardot (Manon of the Spring, Jump Tomorrow, Modigliani, Lady Chatterly, The Man Inside; French Caesar Award noms for Hors la Vie, Un Monde Sans Piti� and Le Bon Plaisir); Peter Capaldi (Dangerous Liaisons, Bean, Local Hero, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Turtle Diary, Shooting Fish, Max, What Rats Won’t Do; won Oscar and BAFTA for best short live-action film Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life; two British Best Comedy Performance noms for The Thick of It); Susie Amy (Dead Fish, Sirens, Modigliani, La Femme Muskateer, Footballers’ Wives; won a 2003 British New TV Talent of the Year honor); Raffaello Degruttola (Saving Private Ryan, Wit, In Love and War, Wing Commander, What a Girl Wants); Ashley Walters (Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Born Romantic, The Whistle-Blower, Stormbreaker; won British Independent Most Promising Newcomer Award in 2004); Morven Christie (Quite Ugly One Morning, The Flying Scotsman); Julienne Davis (Eyes Wide Shut, Come Together, Urban Chaos) and Jim Carter (Top Secret, The Madness of King George, Flash Gordon, Brassed Off, Richard III, Eric the Viking, The Singing Detective, A Very British Coup; won SAG award for Shakespeare in Love).

Executive producers are Alastair Burlingham (I Could Never Be Your Woman, The Defender, Number One Girl); Al Khalifa (The Defender) and Sheikh Mohamed Bin Salman (The Defender).

Producers are Philippe Martinez (The Groomsmen,
Wake of Death, Modigliani, Land of the Blind, Texas 46, Out of Season); Douglas W. Miller (Modigliani, Wake of Death, The Defender, Irish Jam, Out of Season, Ripper 2: Letter from Within) and Claudine Strasser (The Number One Girl, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, The Flock, I Could Never Be Your Woman).

Original Music by Charles Olins (Twelve Monkeys, Aldrich Ames: Traitor Within, Out of Bounds) and
Mark Ryder (Trancers I, II and III; Society, Nightwish).

Cinematography by Damian Bromley (The Business, Spooks; won a French Best Cinematography award for The Football Factory).

Film Editing by Kristina Hamilton (Left in Darkness, Citizen Verdict).

Production Design by Adrian Cancer (Straight into Darkness, Furia).

Art Direction by Vraciu Eduard Daniel (Blood and Chocolate, Joyeux Noel, Madhouse).

Special Effects by Adrian Popescu (Blood and Chocolate, An American Haunting, The Cave, Vlad, Callas Forever).

Release Data:
Limited US theatrical release on June 19, 2005; Australian, UK and Spain DVD premieres in Summer 2005.

Internet Movie Database entry for House of 9

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