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“It’d be vacation all the time – isn’t that what we want? Don’t be scared.”
Genre: Slow Burn Trippy Horror
Year Released: 2020
Where I Watched: Shudder
Pedigree: Echoes of Lovecraftian tales, and The Bay.
Synopsis: Emily and Randall head to Randall’s dad’s beach house to chill, and work on their relationship. But they didn’t know that his dad’s friends Mitch and Jane had been invited to use the house. And all four of them have no idea what what’s rising up out of the water… Or is it all just a really, really bad weed chocolate bar trip?
Fabulous or Frustrating?: Fans of The Bay, The Invitation, The Visit, and Take Shelter will find lots to like in this creepy, mind-bender of a film. Director Jeffrey A. Brown turns the horror up slowly, until things go full bonkers and you’re gobsmacked, left alone to eye your faucets suspiciously.
The pace feels leisurely, but there is not a moment that’s wasted in this quick and creepy 87 minutes. The cinematography is well done. From the picture-perfect beach getaway look of the opening scenes to the orange and black nightmare as things go south, the visuals are themselves a character in this story. There’s even weird old school 3D filters in one scene, and that’s so much better than any exposition the characters could have come up with.
The ensemble – there’s basically only four people on screen through the film – become more and more unhinged as their hours and days progress. There’s something “in the air” when they go outside. Faint colors in the trees, and a scent of sewage. Then things start to really look wild, with an old school 3D haze… Are things really getting crazy, or are they all just majorly tripping?
Clips of the bottom of the ocean interspersed between scenes of dialogue here and there keep viewers unsettled, and the low key FX that starts the weirdness is flat out disgusting. And then things dial up exponentially, yet stay surprisingly subdued for a film that could have gone absolutely bonkers…and it works perfectly. The FX is shockingly good. Not that it’s odd to see excellent FX, but that the effects are used sparingly, to powerful effect. That said, if body horror freaks you out, be prepared to be freaked.
What I liked best about House is the way the plot plays with what’s real and what’s not. The characters are stoned out of their respective minds when things start to get weird… Or is it all just a bad trip? Even the final shot left me in a dreamy place, where Schrödinger’s Apocalypse is both happening and not. I’m typically a “tie it up with a bow” kinda gal, but when uncertainty is delivered so wonderfully well? I’m absolutely here for it.
As with The Bay, there’s a touch of environmental PSA, as you might expect from a horror movie set near the ocean. But considering the how of this particular apocalypse, it’s not shoehorn education in, but an integral part of the story. There’s also scenes where organic chemistry and astrobiology are discussed, giving a disturbingly true to life feel to the proceedings. Sleep well, kids!
Freak-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5 Freaks