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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

AI Haunted House

Max Winslow and the House of Secrets (2019) on IMDb

Plot Overview

3 at desksImpossibly rich Bentonville High School alumnus Atticus Virtue (Chad Michael Murray) selects five of the school's sorriest upper­class­men to house­sit his tricked out manor and match wits with its OS Haven (Marina Sirtis) and robotic butler Sir Mordred (Dale Gibson) in some kind of demented rich man's game. Meet nerdy girl Maxine “Max” Winslow (Sydne Mikelle,) misguided musician Connor Lawson (Tanner Buchanan,) cruel troll Aiden Ross (Emery Kelly,) video junkie Benny Carrasco (Jason Genao,) and social media maven Sophia Peach (Jade Chynoweth.) Give them a few years with­out psycho­therapy or medication, and they'd be candidates for author Ron Corbett's Montcalm Tavern:

One of the lowest, rankest dives in all of Springfield, a tavern for men barred from other taverns, for men traveling through life with neither friend nor kin. It was generous to even call Mont­calm a tavern, because it was more a sporting pit than any­thing else—a ring for the deranged, desperate, and soon-to-check-out-of-this-world to congregate, compete, and run cheap hustles on each other. (46)

However, in Virtue Manor these guys are forced to grow up in a hurry, and one of them hopes to “win a mansion.”


Maxine's younger brother Ethan (Anton Starkman) early on poses the question, “Do you think we're doomed as a species?” Max at least believes in consequences, “a thing called karma.” There is also talk of “the only way out” and “your salvation,” not to mention forgiveness. The selection results are to be texted to the students after school at precisely 3:16. That seems to me code for well known, (John 3:16) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that who­soever believeth in him should not perish, but have ever­lasting life.” On the wall at school is posted the slogan, In God we trust. At the manor Atticus asks his contestants to, “Trust me.” Seems to me he is a kind of Christ figure, the man-God, a wildly successful graduate of the school of life, and now he wants to help others over­come their problems.

The five contestants being “bad, very bad,” are not prepared to directly enter after school life but must first go through a brief purgatory presided over by Haven. They are split apart inside the house for individual attention. That suggests, (John 14:2-3) “In my Father's house are many mansions: … I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” To win the test in these individual mansions is to secure the manor with its Lord. That almost sounds circular but is a product of a mish­mash of English vocabulary.

Webster defines, “mansion 1 b archaic : dwelling, abode 2 a (1): the house of the lord of a manor (2): a large imposing residence b : a separate apartment or lodging in a large structure.” Korzybski has suggested “index numbers to break up false identi­fi­cations” (139). In my review of “Angels & Demons,” I used the alliterative phrase “miniature magnetic mansion1b” to describe the critical housing of some highly explosive anti­matter. In the current movie under review, the imposing manor is called a “mansion2a.” In the scripture the individual rooms within “my Father's house” are said to be “many mansions2b.” Another example of the latter can be seen in Mark Greaney: “a little office at Chungking Mansions2b ... the hallways were crammed with impromptu markets and kiosks ... rented rooms in the building [48] ... thousands of residents packed tight in a can [48–9] ... a building seventeen stories tall ... mostly residences [49] ... labyrinthine halls and stairwells of Chungking Mansions2b [52] ... he recognized him from the mansion2b ... in the Peak neighborhood of Hong Kong [182].”

In this movie the proving rooms are variously: a bathroom, a chest (containing a VR headset), an elevator, a “caged bird,” and a blanket fort. One can readily see why the scripture doesn't use the expression of the Lord preparing “many cages” for us in his Father's house, as cages would not appeal to a prison inmate reading his Bible. The same could be said for “room”—viz. ‘Get a room’—as that would be a turn­off to anyone having once been held in a room for nefarious purposes. Here we note in the wisdom literature: Eccl. 4:14 some­body who “cometh out of prison to reign” although he dominates a conversation is counted to have inferior speech to a wise user of English whose vocabulary words have declined—become poor—in frequency of usage over time. As for all those archaic words and such, according to a lecture by Prof. George P. Marsh given in 1859 on the English Bible [KJV], (448–9)

the English Bible sustains, and always has sustained to the general English tongue, the position of a treatise upon a special know­ledge requiring, like any branch of science, a special nomen­clature and phrase­ology. The language of the law, for example, in both vocabu­lary and structure, differs widely from that of unpro­fes­sional life; the language of medicine, of meta­physics, of astronomy, of chemistry, of mechanical art, all these have their approp­riate idioms, very diverse from the speech which is the common heri­tage of all. Why, then, should theology, the highest of know­ledges, alone be required to file her tongue to the vulgar utterance, when every other human interest has its own approp­riate expression, which no man thinks of conforming to a standard that, because it is too common, can hardly be other than unclean?

The archaic words are ones that have merely become less common in ordinary use, as it were, though when the English language was younger they were a rich part of day to day discourse. They and others now largely in disuse are still good words. On the other hand, putting sacred discourse into modern vernacular strikes one as a travesty of the tongue, much like hearing an ex-con speak on the street. Just because the young language's words became poor over time in frequency of use is no excuse to replace them in sacred text. It's just a natural course of language, “he that is born in his kingdom becoming poor,” as it were. Scholar Joshua What­mough writes that, “Within the territory of a language, wide deviations of dialect may be found … Such deviations disturb communications, they do not completely disrupt it. And they are, in all known languages, past and present, a constant feature, like archaisms (e.g. in religious or legal terminology) …” (51, 28).

Production Values

” (2019) was directed by Sean Olson. It was written by Jeff Wild. It stars Tanner Buchanan, Chad Michael Murray, and Marina Sirtis. The high school age actors were a tribute to their experience. The philosophy was deep speculation and the technology off the deep end. The robot seemed like last year's model. MPAA rated it PG for scary situations and peril, language and thematic content. It was filmed on location in Arkansas. It's all of 98 minutes long, in color and B&W (for effect.)

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

Trying to picture the kind of person this movie would appeal to, I imagine some­one who as a kid excelled in paint-by-numbers and whose mother praised him for his parts in school productions. Later he was deeply touched by faith-based movies that other­wise lacked any technical merit. Now he has branched out to this PG number in order to see some­thing with an edge to it. And he is not disappointed; it's the cat's meow. But the theater is practically deserted as it lacks a wide appeal, possibly some­thing to do with the casting criterion of the actresses being flat-chested.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your booster seat action-packed. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Pretty well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Family Groups. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture was cited from the King James Version, Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Print.

Corbett, Ron. Ragged Lake. Copyright © Ron Corbett, 2017. Toronto: ECW Press. Print.

Greaney, Mark. Gunmetal Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Mark Strode Greaney. New York: Berkley, 2017. Print.

Korzybski, Alfred. Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics. Quoted in Stuart Chase, Power of Words. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1954. Print.

Marsh, George P. “Formation of our English sacred dialect.”
       Lectures on the English Language. London: John Murray, 1863. Print.
       ——available to read or download at www.bibles.n7nz.org.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster. 1984. Print.

Whatmough, Joshua. Language A Modern Synthesis. New York: Mentor Books, 1957. Print.