August 2, 2018 Our House (Movie Review)
Sing along: “Our house is a very, very fine house with two ghosts in the window.” A brand new Horror offering from those good folks at IFC Midnight, Our House arrived in theaters and On Demand as of Friday, July 27, 2018, and it is a hauntingly electric experience.
Life can change in an instant. One minute, Richard (John Ralston: Pound of Flesh 2015, Bitten series) and Lila (Allison Hossack: Stargate: Atlantis series, Fringe 2012) are living in an adorable red-brick Hobbit house in the ‘burbs with their family of five, and the next tragedy strikes. In the before hours, eldest son and genius student Ethan (Thomas Mann: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 2015, Kong: Skull Island 2017) is singularly focused on his research, but he will soon find himself dropping out of school and working at a local hardware shop to keep his family afloat. That is because, after the random, horrifying accident, he will become the guardian of his siblings: teenage gamer Matt (Percy Hynes White: Cast No Shadow 2014, The Gifted series) and precious little mermaid Becca (Kate Moyer: It 2017, Holly Hobbie series).
Wanting to do right by his family but still chasing a dream, former valedictorian Ethan focuses on the droll tasks of caring for his siblings – carting them to and from school, cooking meals, etc. – but, in his spare time, continues to tinker at his research. Here, he is working on an Electromagnetic Induction unit that will, one day, make wireless electricity a possibility. Unfortunately, all test runs, to date, have failed at his intended goal, and so he soldiers onward when time allows but focuses on his family.
With time, however, not all personal wounds heal: Matt is struggling under the weight of the loss of their parents, and little Becca is withdrawing socially at school – but making some quality imaginary friends. In fact, home life has quite a few odd twists to it, of late, and while the teen is hearing footsteps and seeing things written on the walls, little Becca, as mentioned, is having full-blown conversations with the darkness. Ultimately, Ethan will have to decide if his siblings are suffering delusions from the emotional loss of their parents or if there is something else happening inside their family’s home?
Clocking in at 90 minutes in-length, Our House marks the feature-length debut of Director Anthony Scott Burns (Manifold short 2013, Lost Boy short 2016) and was written by Nathan Parker (Moon 2009, Equals 2015), based off 2010’s Ghost from the Machine. The film also stars Nicola Peltz (Bates Motel series, Transformers: Age of Extinction 2014) as Ethan’s girlfriend Hannah; Robert B. Kennedy (Hollywoodland 2006, Suicide Squad 2016) as neighbor Tom, a widower; Lucius Hoyos (Heroes Reborn series, Between series) as Matt’s bestie Dag; and Marcia Bennett (Adventures in Babysitting 1987, Serendipity 2001) as kindly neighbor Marie.
Our House is an intriguing film, one that is an enjoyable watch. While the pacing leans a bit toward the slower end – with the bulk of the film’s real activity happening in its final 20 minutes – this is a story that is done well, with solid acting from its talented ensemble cast. Leading the charge is Mann, as the stressed Ethan, a genius student who is forced to put his promising future on-hold to care for his siblings in the wake of their parents’ tragic deaths. Mann is believable as both a loving brother/son and a tinkering genius, and gives a solid performance that anchors the entire film. As his siblings, White and Moyer do equally well, with little Moyer unwittingly amping up the creep factor of the film.
While the haunted house story has been done ad nauseum, here, Director Burns and Writer Parks place a good spin onto the tired old story, one that offers both an emotional element and an appeal to fans of ghost-hunting and the pseudo-science behind such. The end result is a non-traditional tale that, while not horrifying or particularly scary, and with a heavy predictability, definitely has moments that are creeptastic. This is much in part to the wonderful CGI work employed in creating these black smoke ghosts, artistically-rendered, eerily spooky shapes that shift like shadows as they billow onto the screen.
Ultimately, all the myriad elements pull together to make Our House a solid offering into the Paranormal subgenre of Horror, an enjoyable spin on the haunted house that takes scientific elements to create a tale that is half ghost story and half ‘be careful what you wish for.’ From its wonderful cast to its artful take on haunting visuals, Our House is an enjoyable movie-going experience that is fully worthy of your next popcorn eating binge. For these reasons, CrypticRock give Our House 3.5 of 5 stars.