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Saturday, 31 October 2009

Hank Friedmann "Empty Houses" (Leerone 2009)





A welcome break in the Cumbrian mountains, where I grew up, and back for Halloween. Leerone is too attractive to don witch's gear and green teeth, certainly in public, but in her newly released video, Empty Houses, she wanders through a haunted house without once raising a scream. She returns to her Los Angeles director Hank Friedmann whose treatment of her Care For Some Whiskey I featured almost a year ago. Hank eschews the childhood figures of that video in favour of a more delicate transformation of house into haunted house. The mix of live action and subtle animation works well, Leerone appears as, I first thought, a young widow throwing flowers on the grave in a suitably remote graveside, overlooked by the house on the hill, grave stones askew, galaxies whirling overhead. Inside doors open by magic, portraits come alive and the moth leads us to the well where a marriage of the house's previous inhabitants is re-enacted. What I most like about the piece, other than a genuinely classy song, is the director and singer's restraint. I'm no great lover of Halloween having met youngsters whose concept of trick is more acute than treat (I was that boy) and I know that the track is no Halloween night only wonder, despite it being signalled to me (in my inbox) by Leerone as, "Very appropriate for Halloween as it takes place in a spirit-haunted mansion". There are no garish touches at all, whilst the haunted house cues are gestures in the direction of the genre rather than clichés. I'd not be frightened of a night in that house. Happy Halloween.

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