Whaley House is a historical landmark in San Diego, California. Built in 1857, it was the home of one Thomas Whaley. In 2005 Life Magazine called it ‘the most haunted house in America’, and thus forms the backdrop for this latest production from those much maligned people at The Asylum.
The pre-credits sequence begins with three gore obsessed slackers attempting to break in to the house – “Fulci is an artistic abortion, Argento is the way to go” utters one before he meets his grisly end via one of the Whaley House long deceased residents. We then open during one of the many tours of the Whaley House that take place each day. The senior tour guide is Bethany Romero (Lynn Lowry) who after an incident on one of the tours feels the need to brief newcomer Penny Abbott (Stephanie Greco) on the rules of the house, with such tips as don’t draw the ghosts out and that the night is ‘their time’.
While telling her friends about her job as well as the incident that took place that day, it’s not long before they are pressuring her into a private tour later that night. The film wastes no time with exposition and barely fifteen minutes in we’re inside the house and about to endure an evening with the paranormal. Two additions to the group arrive early on, the first being “the famous Keith Drummond”, a psychic who has graced TV shows aplenty across America, and the second is a nerdy ghost hunter familiar to the group.
It’s not long before everyone becomes settled in the house, and they begin a séance in an attempt to contact deceased members of the Whaley family. Keith is successful in making contact with Thomas Whaley who begins to communicate with him by knocking yes or no answers on the wall in answer to the questions posed. Psychic Keith then becomes aware of a second presence, a woman called Anna. What does she want from the amateur ghost hunters? Are Thomas and Anna sources of good or evil?
The Haunting Of Whaley House is a fairly standard teenagers alone in in a haunted house concept, with the acting passable but the story a little stretched. It is though a one location feature, so all credit to it for not becoming a bore-fest and maintaining interest throughout its ninety minutes. It has a good level of atmosphere coupled with a few very creepy sequences largely due to the practical effects and absence of CGI (for the most part).
One minor gripe is with its UK distribution which may come across as a little pedantic, but the cover and disc state The Haunting AT Whaley House while it’s actually OF Whaley House. It also has the incorrect running time on the sleeve too. I know it’s perhaps inconsequential, but if you’re going to sell someone’s art, you owe it to them to get the details accurate.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the upturn in quality from the Asylum with Rise Of The Zombies following decent productions such as Nazis At The Centre Of The Earth. The Haunting Of Whaley House belongs in the top tier of Asylum movies, but does that mean it’s any good? Well, not particularly – but in the Asylum universe it’s a solid 9.5, while in reality it’s a respectable 5 !