Valerie On The Stairs (2006)

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Overall Rating 57%
Overall Rating
Ranked #7,375
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Rob Hanisey is an aspiring author who moves into a large boarding house called Highberger House, a place where struggling writers live until their works become published. While trying to write his first book, a horror thriller, Rob has repeated encounters with a mysterious young woman named Valerie who pleads with him to save her from a unseen force. But Rob's neighbors, including the elderly and eccentric writer Everett seem to know more than what they are letting on about who (or what) Valerie really is. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: August 27, 2007
You know, I really want to like Mick Garris. This is the man who gave life to the Masters of Horror series in the first place, and he's also a man who is apparently well-liked by everyone he works with. He's brought plenty of Stephen King stories to the big (and small) screen, he has an obvious love for the horror genre, and he just seems like the kind of guy that I'd love to chat with while downing a couple of cold ones. The only problem is that he's not a very good director. Sure, most of his films have their moments, but the man will never be known as a true master of horror, and his latest offering - the Clive Barker-penned Valerie on the Stairs - does absolutely nothing to change my opinion.

Rob Hanisey (Tyron Leitso) is a struggling writer who isn't exactly having the best of luck with his chosen profession. In fact, he's about to be evicted from his apartment, and this leads him to the Highberger House, a sort of hostel where struggling writers much like himself can stay free of charge until they've had their work published. That's a great deal at first glance, but the man doesn't even have a chance to unpack his bags before he gets the idea that the place is haunted thanks to random knocks on the door and bumps on the wall. This could easily be chalked up to an overactive imagination or old pipes, but when he actually sees a ghost, well... there's no sort of logical explanation for that, now is there?

Valerie (the smoking-hot Clare Grant) is the ghost in question, and she repeatedly asks Rob to help her before she's dragged into the wall by an unseen force. "Help her with what?" is the big question on Rob's mind, and as the film progresses, we'll soon discover exactly what it is that she wants, what that demon-looking (Tony Todd) creature is, as well as what role the other tenants in this house play in all of this. Christopher Lloyd and Jonathan Watton co-star as but a few of the other people living in this house.

Valerie on the Stairs is not a bad film, but it is a lackluster one. Now, I want to be upfront with you readers when I say that I have no idea who this should be blamed on. I've never read the original story by Clive Barker and I didn't read the treatment that Barker himself wrote for this episode, so this could very well be a case of source material that I'm simply not a fan of. Of course, Mick Garris could have also screwed it up along the way, and while I wouldn't doubt that, I can't say it for certain and thus, I won't pin the blame on him... this time.

So, what went wrong? Well... almost everything from the middle of the film onwards. The setup for this story is great and the concept is just as good, but once things get going, it sort of falls apart. For starters, Tyron Leitso simply can't carry a film on his own, even if it is only an hour long and even if he does have Christopher Lloyd and Tony Todd to play off of. The man's biggest credits both happen to be roles in Uwe Boll films (House of the Dead and the upcoming Seed), and although I'm sure that there's a joke to be made there, I'll take the high road and simply say that Leitso has potential; however, that potential certainly wasn't realized in this episode.

Then, there's the story itself. Now, I mentioned that the concept found here was great, and I'll stand by that up to a point - but once that point is hit, everything starts to crumble. I won't go into too much detail for fear of spoilers, but suffice it to say that once certain revelations are made and once certain actions are taken, the story goes from one that is full of potential to one that is downright hilarious. When you consider that this wasn't intended to be a comedy, I think that it goes without saying that that was not a good thing. I won't even get into my disgust at the closing moments of the film other than to say that this idea may have worked in the literary world, but watching it take place on screen... damn, did anyone actually watch this before shipping it off to Showtime?

I realize that I've done nothing but complain about the various aspects of the film thus far, but I'd like to once again mention that this is not a bad film, just a lackluster one. There are a few bright spots in the storyline, there's some great gore scenes, Clare Grant is downright heart-melting, and of course, it's always nice to see a couple of veterans (Todd and Lloyd) getting some time to shine. However, the overall product is nothing to brag about, and in the end, it's just another entry in the depressingly-long list of "Masters of Horror entries that failed to reach their full potential." 4/10.
Crispy #1: Crispy - added October 27, 2009 at 9:05pm
Clare Grant is hot as hell, and that's about all this has to offer.
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