Which is a shame. Because Castle Freak at its best is at least an interesting watch. A remake of the beloved 90s Stuart Gordon curio (based off the H.P. Lovecraft short The Outsider starring horror royalty Barbara Crampton – who here produces) this version follows a young woman who inherits the castle of both the opening and the title, and with it the creature that lies within. Our protagonist seems to have a link to the place that allows her visions others can’t see, while soon arrives to be victims of an increasingly violent second half. Kathy Charles’ script at least finds time for some interesting character development, whilst director Tate Steinsiek mounts sequences impressively.
But again and again it falls back on unfortunate stereotypes and tropes. A quarter of a century on from the original and you ache for the horror genre to fully move off of the more problematic elements this film wallows in. Even the presence of Jake Horowitz (so impressive in this year’s outstanding The Vast of Night) in the cast can’t redeem the film.
Some genre fans will forgive the film its shortcomings, powering through to some of the more enjoyably violent moments. There is a degree of world-building here and ambition that is admirable. You just wish the film didn’t need to plum the worst aspects of the genre I so love. Certainly there is talent here, it’s just cocooned in a film that feels rather lacking.