There's Someone Inside Your House - New Release Review
Director: Patrick Brice
Starring: Sydney Park, Théodore Pellerin, Asjha Cooper, Dale Whibley, Jesse LaTourette, Diego Josef
Written by: Henry Gayden
Produced by: James Wan, Shawn Levy, Henry Gayden
Cinematography by: Jeff Cutter
Original Music by: Zachery Dawes
The graduating class at Osborne High is being targeted by a masked assailant, intent on exposing the darkest secret of each victim, and only a group of misfit outsiders can stop the killings.
It’s so difficult to watch high-school teen slashers these days without thinking about the granddaddy of them all ‘Scream’, especially since that film is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and for the most part still works so well today. It’s even more difficult to imagine that, like ‘Scream’, we will still be talking about ‘There’s Someone Inside Your House’ in 5 years, let alone 25 years. Not that this is a bad film, it just doesn’t really do anything memorable.
Based on the 2017 novel by Stephanie Perkins and boasting a talented, diverse cast, this “modern day” teen slasher is directed by Patrick Brice, whose debut feature film ‘Creep’ really put him on the map as being one to watch. Reviews for this film will likely be littered with (somewhat unfair) comparisons to Wes Craven’s 1996 classic and a plethora of the like-minded flicks that followed in its success but it’s easy to see why from the opening scene. A cold open that focuses on a hot high school American football jock, alone in his oversized house. He’s being tormented by a mysterious stalker, who has plastered photographic evidence of him beating up a fellow student (who we find out later is gay) with the threat of exposing his horrible crime to the entire town. As the scene progresses it becomes increasingly obvious that the stalker isn’t here just to threaten but to cause actual physical harm. Cut to later that night during a football game and everybody in attendance magically receives video evidence of the bully’s beat down. The killer isn’t just here to murder, he’s here to expose some home truths and send a message too.
The message soon becomes evidently clear. The tagline for the film is “Everyone has a secret to die for”, a compelling and provocative allurement that counts on the viewers to question every single little thing about each and every character but unfortunately it just lacks the tension and character development to really pull it off the whole way through.
I do applaud its aspirations in tackling the idea of cancel culture (a phrase that has been bandied about so much that it’s kind of lost all of it’s true meaning now) and some of the commentary that follows in the wake of the initial kill (one of the early victims is outed for appearing on a white supremacy podcast) There’s a fair amount of exposition early on and some cringe worthy scenes that sadly drowns out much of the film’s endeavours and we’re treated to brief flashbacks of our protagonist Makani (Sydney Park) reliving a past misdemeanour which ultimately pays no significance to the story whatsoever other than, it’s a secret that she’s been carrying with her for a year or so. But all the characters have secrets and the film desperately tries to play into the often overused small-town mentality trope.
As I’m writing this I’m just realizing that I may not have enjoyed this film as much as I first thought. Some of the death scenes are adequately gory, something that might appease a lot of horror fans, but for the most part they're all suffering from tension deficiency. It feels like they just wanted to get to the actual death scene as quickly as possible and forgot about all the suspense and cloak and dagger stuff that makes slashers so much damn fun. The tedious attempts at red herrings feel a bit lazy too and the killer reveal climax (trust me there was no climaxing here) which comes and goes in what feels like a few fleeting minutes, is just such a let down that it really diminishes any of the positives that the film had going for it.
And there are positives. The young cast do a good job with what they’re given, even though it’s quite generic dialogue and we don’t really get much of an insight into any of their private lives outside of the group. It's refreshing to see diversity. The killer's mask (there’s always a mask) was quite an original take and does actually play an important part of the storytelling. The killer wears a 3-D printed face sculpt of the victim they are about to murder. Very creepy and symbolic of what message the film is trying its best to get over; that everyone hides under a mask. A poignant and thought provoking sentiment in today’s social media crazy society. While there’s definitely a message here it isn’t properly executed and as mentioned above the revelation is profoundly disingenuous with zero connection to Makani or her secret, which is what the entire film was suppose to be building up to.
It was co-produced by Shawn Levy (Stranger Things) and James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring) but it still looks and feels like a Netflix original and simply doesn’t do enough to stand out from the crowd. A decent premise that could've been so much more if it had dropped the fruitless romance between Makani and "sociopath" Ollie and focussed more on building the tension within the group of friends and the actual personal connection to the killer motives. Worth a watch but be prepared to be left feeling empty.
- Gavin Logan