Review: Valerie on the Stairs – Masters of Horror: Valerie on the Stairs (2006)


Directed by: Mick Garris | 59 minutes | horror | Actors: Tyron Leitso, Nicola Lipman, Jonathan Watton, Christopher Lloyd, Christine Barrie, Clare Grant, Suki Kaiser, Tony Todd

‘Valerie on the Stairs’ is in many ways a typical haunted house movie and based on a short story by Clive Barker, the man behind classic horror stories like ‘Hellraiser’ and ‘Candyman’. Ambitious writer Rob decides to move into a building where unpublished writers are offered a free room to work on a book. The only condition is that you must scratch after publication of your own work. However, Rob soon has to deal with strange noises and a ghostly apparition that shows that the house is less fluffy than you would suspect at first glance.

Since the story behind ‘Valerie on the Stairs’ brings little new under the sun, much depends on the skill of the director and the actors. The camerawork and the lighting ensure that the film exudes a nice mysterious, dark and claustrophobic atmosphere. The pace at which the story is told is also fine. Things are not reeling too quickly, but the events certainly do not take place at a snail’s pace, so that the film never becomes lethargic or sleep-inducing boring. Despite some gory segments, this print is more recommended for fans of understated, suspense-based creepiness than the adepts of raw and uncompromising gore. The acting is generally solid,

Nevertheless, there are certainly some critical comments to be made about this episode. In this way, after the exciting and challenging beginning, the story becomes too predictable at a certain point. Director Garris fails to keep the tension taut until the end. The last part of the film looks a bit forced and eventually culminates in a rather vague final scene. Also the appearance of the demon (an almost unrecognizable Tony ‘Candyman’ Todd) does not show too much originality and is very similar to a cheap copy of the djin from ‘Wishmaster’. ‘Valerie on the Stairs’ will not go down in history as one of the classics from this series of short horror films, but it is nevertheless quite an enjoyable piece that will appeal to moderate fans of the genre.

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