Main cast: Ezra Godden (Walter Gilman), Jay Brazeau (Mr Dombrowski), Campbell Lane (Masurewicz), and Chelah Horsdal (Frances Elwood)
Director: Stuart Gordon
Ah, Stuart Gordon. Three of his better known horror flicks are Re-Animator, Dagon, and From Beyond, all of which are loosely adapted from HP Lovecraft’s stories, so it is perhaps to be expected that he takes on another adaptation of that horror writer’s stories for his Masters of Horror entry. H. P. Lovecraft’s Dreams in the Witch-House is adapted from the story of the same name, duh, and while some creative liberties are taken to spice things up, this episode will still be predictable enough to folks who are familiar with the story.
Walter Gilman is an Miskatonic University student who is initially pleased to be able to rent a room for cheap at a dilapidated house run by a manager who doesn’t care what happens to you so long as you pay the rent on time. His neighbors are a creepy old man named Masurewicz, who babbles about “a rat with a human face”, and a nice lady, Frances, who is also a single mother to a baby named Danny. The place has a rat problem, but as usual, the manager doesn’t give a damn.
Trouble starts when Walter begins having dreams of a witch and her rat familiar urging him to sacrifice Danny. Worse, he learns from Masurewicz that the dreams are very real, and the old man himself had sacrificed children to her in the past. No one believed the old man then, just as no one will believe poor Walter when he tries to warn them about the witch. Will he be able to stop the witch, or will poor Danny become the latest baby food for Satan?
If you are not fond of rats, take a strong drink before watching this one, because it is all about the rats. But if you are like me, you will end up giggling at the truly awful CGI work that went into making that rat with a human face – oh god, the animation is so bad, it’s hilarious. That’s the main problem with this episode: the only way it could have gotten away with such a thing is if the script goes all campy and absurd, so that the absurd-looking rat thing won’t look so out of place. Alas, the script is pretty sober for the most part, so every time that rat shows up (and it does pretty often), the whole thing become unintentionally bad in a “Let’s point and laugh at that ugly thing!” way.
Also, the story relies heavily on the viewer’s ability to accept that nobody in this place would move despite the fact that there are rats everywhere and some of the occupants are clearly insane. I know times can be hard, but… seriously? When Walter begins dreaming about weird things, waking up in odd places, and sustaining physical injuries carried over from his dreams, the fact that he doesn’t pack up and leave right away marks him as a bit not there in the head as well. Thus, it is hard to sympathize when bad things happen to him.
H. P. Lovecraft’s Dreams in the Witch-House is basically standard “Hello! We live in a creepy house where weird and dangerous crap happens to us, but we won’t move just because!” horror stuff, but it is marred by that godawful CGI human-faced rat. Really, whoever looked at that thing during post-production and still thought it would be okay needs to have his or her head checked.