Director: Patrick Brice
Stars: Sydney Park, Théodore Pellerin, Jesse LaTourette
The slasher movie is back. There’s a new Scream movie causing hubbub on the internet. Halloween Kills is doing monster box office in the face of a day-and-date streaming release. Even Chucky is back on telly in the rightful hands of Don Mancini. If our last decade saw a revival of haunted house tales, this one seems keen to resurrect the knife-wielding maniacs of yesteryear.
Harvesting old IP for new thrills is one thing, but a genre can’t live on past glories alone. Arriving on Netflix in time for Spooky Season, There’s Someone Inside Your House struggles to update an old formula for a new audience.
Plenty of the genre’s staples are present. Non-descript rural town Osborne provides the requisite sense of anonymous square-state Americana. All our main characters are high school kids. The structure leans hard on the whodunnit intrigue of a killer behind a variety of masks. And said killer seems to know a lot of juicy secrets. He, she or they seems to know what everyone did last summer. When an obnoxious jock (who looks about 35 – another staple) gets both ankles slashed in his own walk-in closet, theories and accusations are flung back and forth before we’ve even learned who our prime suspects are.
We focus in on a clique of quasi-outcasts at Osborne High, prioritising Makani Young (Sydney Park) as our prospective Final Girl in Waiting, who is slyly trying to hide a summer tryst with bad-boy Ollie (Théodore Pellerin). The script acknowledges and limply tries to comment on the hypocrisy of the 1%, flies an appreciated flag for trans visibility with supporting character Derby (Jesse LaTourette), flips the finger at North America’s neo-Nazi uprising; does its duty here and there to present itself as a modern twist on a classic formula But the truth is that popping Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten on the soundtrack does as good a job as any of these more try-hard gestures.
But just as Ollie keeps a shoe box of dusty cassette tapes in his car, There’s Someone Inside Your House is ultimately an antiquated beast through-and-through. It looks handsome enough (especially when the sun goes down), and the (relatively) young cast do a decent enough job, but from the off it feels like a decidedly paint-by-numbers job. Not so much a loving homage as a flat retread of well-covered ground.
Sincerity isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. But personality is everything. Disappointingly, There’s Someone Inside Your House has virtually none. While it musters some cutely likable characters (mutually attracted Rodrigo (Diego Josef) and Alexandra (Asjha Cooper) for instance), there’s little in the way of nuance or flavour. Brice’s direction is clean and efficient rather than inspired, ultimately rendering it a by-the-numbers affair.
That the killer wears 3D-printed masks of their victims – thus reflecting a belief that they have, in a sense, hung themselves – isn’t quite enough of a distinction to raise the movie up above either its contemporaries or its ’70s, ’80s or ’90s forefathers. Like far too many horror flicks that bypass Shudder and wash up on Netflix, its an almost unforgivably bland experience. Even the risible dialogue (“You bring me doughnuts because you know they soothe me”) seems to fundamentally lack character.
Horror trends cycle around. If we are indeed in the midst of a new slasher boom, it’ll be the genre’s third dalliance with mainstream culture and, as ever, there’ll be the standout titles and a swathe of identikit wannabes. Sadly for There’s Someone Inside Your House, it ain’t no Friday the 13th. It ain’t even Urban Legend. Once October is over you’ll probably barely remember it was even there.