I got a lot more from this short film than I expected. By no means am I writing that I expected it to be, gasp, below average... I just got a little more than I bargained for. In a nutshell? After a personal tragedy, a young, celebrated cop is assigned to investigate happenings at an abandoned house. I knew what was happening here. "House 10-16" was a ghost story. Maybe a little cliche. Maybe it's been done to death - but that's alright. I like a good ghost film involving cops. I had visions of "Seven" meets "1408" but also knew - that ambitious low budget movies tend to... well... be just what you expect from an indie flick. So I buckled in and hoped for the best.
As Alexander Edep's cop-ish ghost story progressed, I was quite surprised to notice I was enjoying myself much more than at first thought. My enjoyment had started right from the opening scene, and at this point, I was interested enough to suspend all my "judge-y" motivations and simply continue to enjoy what was onscreen. The atmosphere, by the time Rodgers (Matthew Garcia) is actually within said house, felt just right. Claustrophobic and eerie. As the true story of "House 10-16" was slowly revealed, I was left thinking I was right about the concepts driving the film, but totally off about the way the story was being told. This was a great ride that left me wondering just how much of the film was an actual ghost story? If any parts at all. The mind is capable of some unusual things in it's attempt to protect itself. That very idea is what adds the "umph" to this title. Of that there is no question.
The technical aspects of "House 10-16" are a tricky subject for me. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of wiggly, hand held shots. You could have the best of equipment and once that image starts shaking, even a little, you're reminded this is an indie flick. Akin to a Youtube video. With this production from Edep, a good chunk utilizes just such camera work. Yet somehow... it works. Maybe it's the fact the movements are subtle. There are no really jittery shots, and nothing to make you dizzy. The style is clearly present though, just enough to add a little drama to an otherwise very boring shot. It made me realize it's not the style itself I don't much care for, rather how it's used. Aside from that, the audio is clear and even the video editing itself, all help push the story forward in a decent enough way. By no means am I stating "House 10-16" is the next Oscar contender, but what is here is some good work both behind and in front of the camera. There are times within the movies fifteen minutes that look and feel much bigger than it probably was.
The performances themselves are pretty decent as well. Both quirky at times, and bordering comic at others. When writing of comic, I'm mainly talking about our introductions at the station. Comic on purpose. I really have nothing bad to say about any of the cast members... and I'll leave it at that.
When it's all said and done, "House 10-16" presents itself well as both a ghost story of sorts, or a glimpse into the inner workings of an unstable individual. Be it a haunting - or a defense mechanism will be for you, the viewers to decide. Perhaps that very decision the viewer is required to make, is what makes this film work so well. Or, perhaps it's just the nice way the story was handled. No matter how you slice it, this title has earned it's three and a half stars. Well done.