Movie Review: “There’s Someone Inside Your House”

There’s Someone Inside Your House is a film I hadn’t had on my radar before I decided to watch it, much less a film I expected to pen to paper on for a review. Honestly, the only reason I have the time set aside to watch this film at all is because of a massive thunderstorm that flooded my neighborhood and left me marooned for the night, unable to go to to that pesky job of mine. On the other hand, maybe the film should have been on my radar to begin with, given its credentials.

The film was produced by James Wan and Shawn Levy (“from the creators of The Conjuring and Stranger Things” is plastered on the cover artwork to capitalize). As most of you know, a film being “produced” by someone doesn’t entail a whole, whole lot. Steven Spielberg produced Transformers, but that doesn’t exactly make it The Last Crusade, now, does it? The little detail that actually drew my attention was the person at the helm, a director named Patrick Brice. He is the director for another low-budget horror film I look back on very fondly called Creep (he is also the director of “Creep 2”, which was pretty good as well). From a screenplay by Henry Gayden, the screenwriter for Shazam! and its follow-up (not a huge fan, but they’re fun!), this looks like it has the makings of a pretty decent slasher film, if I do say so myself.

The film doesn’t waste a second to introduce us into the action – starting with a cold open that sees our slasher antagonist slashing and antagonizing.

The early reaction I have is that the film has a lot of production to it. The cinematography is clean and crisp, which is very different from the minimalist, subdued aesthetic that we came to expect from Patrick Brice’s previous horror outing. In that film, the aesthetic was obviously purposeful. It was a found-footage film, and thus, it was meant to be a single-person holding a camera. What is the purpose of this film’s aesthetic? It is busy and stylish in a way I would describe it as mainstream. The use of licensed music in short bursts and how the characters intermingle, it reminds me of a lot of something like Netflix’s teen-drama “Thirteen Reasons Why” or the MTV adaptation of “Scream”, which may or may not deter you. Personally, I didn’t hate the first season of Thirteen Reasons Why (hating everything after though) and I also didn’t hate the first few seasons of the Scream series. 

It definitely has that sheen over.

In There’s Someone Inside Your House, a slasher villain is wreaking havoc, donning a mask that resembles the face of his targeted victim. An added twist is the way the killer is targeting his victims. Basically, he finds dirt on them, and incorporates it in how he kills them. For example, if a person is a drug-addict, he might make them take a bath in dirty syringe needles (he doesn’t, but you get the picture).

The characters try to thread the needle between being over-the-top parody and actual, fleshed out characters – the result is a mixed-bag.

I haven’t looked at what critics thought of this film yet, but I can imagine in my head what a lot of people may say about it. This is a film I believe many critics would refer to as “woke”, which, again, may or may not deter you. In general, I think many people’s disdain over a film that is “woke” is that it doesn’t always feel imperative to the story or authentic to how people actually talk. It is when it feels out of touch or preachy, or like it arrived off a social justice conveyor belt.

Personally, I am all for what a “woke” film stipulates. I loved both Jordan Peele’s films Us and Get Out, and I loved how they took the experience of black Americans and made a horror film out of it. I loved Natasha Kermani’s film Lucky and its social commentary on how women are treated by aggressive, violent men. I believe it is one of the best things about horror in recent times. Every year, it feels like I find a new female director (“Censor” on Hulu was one of the best horror films I saw in 2021) who has something new to say for the genre. As someone who writes about a lot of horror movies, it’s something I am very excited about. At the same time, the stories told, like any other stories told, need to be told well, and if they aren’t, those elements will stand out as manufactured or disingenuous.

This film wouldn’t be the prime example I would make of committing that cardinal sin, but I do feel it has a tonal dissonance and has two sides pulling against one another. Although, I can see what the film is aiming for, I think it dabbles lightly on melodrama and parody, but never fully commits to either.

The dialogue is very aimed, with criticism on hazing, on bullying, and, in general, just how inauthentic people can be, especially in high school. Things like bringing eyes to a transgender student, praising their bravery and courage about being who they are, but, ultimately doing so in a tactical, weaponized fashion. Of praising them so it builds you up as a nice person, while also, in turn, putting that person at risk for more intense ridicule and harassment as a result.

We have seen this sort of thing with comedies like Mean Girls, and even more recent horror films like It’s a Wonderful Knife and Tragedy Girls (those two leaning more toward satire and comedy than drama). We have also seen horror films that see the killers try to punish perceived wrongdoings, like The Final or Slaughter High. It’s a novel concept, really (and not only because it’s literally based on a novel). Unfortunately, it feels overstuffed with too many character backstories that feel either under cooked and too many moments that feel unearned. If you try to say too many things all at once, you’ll end up not saying anything at all – or, at least, not anything of strong value.

There are some things I do like about it. I like the subtle synthesizers in the background that feel like homages without being too in your face about it. I like how it feels ‘in the moment’, unlike so many other slasher films. Eighties nostalgia is something we horror fans lop up like pigs eating grub from a trough. Every year, we have a new horror film paying homage to a classic film from yesteryear. If it’s not paying homage, then, that is only because it is an outright sequel to that film. I love them too, but I also appreciate a slasher film that feels modern and like it is trying to press the genre forward, at least in some ways. I also think the film, in general, is well-made on a technical level.

The biggest criticism I had about this film is that it had so many characters I didn’t care about or couldn’t become invested in, and so many little moments between them that I didn’t care about. There were moments that felt sentimental and poetic, but in a way that was unearned or felt very manufactured or performed. This all wouldn’t have inherently mattered, however, if it had succeeded at being a fun slasher film, with intense chase scenes, intense moments, or clever use of its gimmick. Unfortunately, it didn’t have that. As a slasher film, it came off fairly run of the mill. Well made, but run of the mill. So, since it doesn’t succeed at that, its enjoyment really hinges on a person’s enjoyment of the characters and the whodunnit mystery. To me, the mystery was, at best, pretty generic, and, at worst, derivative of better things and bad.

In summation, There’s Someone Inside Your House is a well made slasher film, that largely fumbles with its characters, the mystery at its core, the novelty of its gimmick, and the message it is trying to relay. It isn’t all bad, and you can certainly do much worse with the genre, but you also have the opportunity to do much better.

Rating: – 2.0 out of 5.0