July 17, 2020 The Beach House (Movie Review)
The opportunity to visit a gorgeous beach house in a remote location, all with access to an empty beach, is something most of us would kill for in the current climate. However, The Beach House, the latest original film on Shudder, will certainly have you re-thinking all of those fantasies about beach getaways while stuck in quarantine.
Released on the streaming platform on July 9th, 2020, it is Jeffrey A. Brown’s full-length directorial debut. This devastating tale follows two young lovers on vacation to fix their fizzling relationship when they are faced with a deadly environmental phenomenon, completely shattering their picturesque getaway with a gristly fight for their lives. With nods to films like 2007’s Stephen King’s The Mist, and other contagion films before it, The Beach House holds its own and delivers a brilliantly done film, proving you do not need huge budgets to deliver a good scare.
Our lovers, Emily (Liana Liberato: Trust 2010, If You Stay 2014) and Randall (Noah Le Gros: The Get Down series, Depraved 2019), head up to his father’s empty beach house in an attempt to rekindle their love that is being afflicted with your typical 20-somethings “we’re just headed in different directions” relationship drama. To their surprise, the beach is virtually empty, which is a bit unusual, but according to Randall, they must be early for the Memorial Day vacation season.
They soon discover they are not as alone as they thought when they find Mitch (Jake Weber: Meet Joe Black 1998, Dawn of the Dead 2004) and Jane (Maryanne Nagel: Take Shelter 2011, Into the Storm 2014), an older couple acquainted with Randall’s father, are also staying at the house. The older couple however, vacationing for very different reasons as they may not be together this time next year, not because of relationship drama, but due to Jane’s declining health.
They both decide to share the space, forming unexpected bonds as they live it up, having dinner together and going through a number of bottles of wine. As the bottles run dry, Randall decides to throw edibles into the mix, which leads to everyone tripping and eventually passing out. Before passing out, they realize there’s a strange fog coming off of the water. Is it a result of a bad trip or something more sinister? As you may have guessed, it is the latter.
While The Beach House has a significantly slow build-up, once things kick in, they accelerate into high gear. It goes from a Lifetime movie Drama to a gross parasitic Horror really quick. Since Viral Horror has been a thing for years, this film could have been as successful a few years ago as it is now. However, there is something cosmically funny, albeit quite grim, about putting out a film about escaping an airborne contagion. Of course, it is easy to draw parallels to today’s issues, as we are in the middle of a global pandemic, but this film is much more than that. It is a dread-filled flick that pairs gross bodily horror with smart tension-filled moments. In fact, the imagery in this film is beautifully horrific. For instance, the scene with Emily’s foot that will inevitably make you cringe in a way that only great gore can.
Speaking of Emily, Liana Liberato is a bright spot in this film. She is immediately more likeable than her significant other Randall, whose selfishness keeps him from being happy for her grad school plans; largely stemming from the fact that he just dropped out of college. As an aspiring Astrobiology student, a lot of the happenings throughout the film can be noted in Emily’s dialogue throughout the film, foreshadowing the events to take place. Even briefly explaining earlier in the film that her studies deal with organisms adapting to harsh environments. Humans are a fragile and self-absorbed species, a notion exemplified in the film as it becomes an allegory to our position in the overall big picture. In true Lovecraftian nature, the environment, or cosmos, is indifferent to humans until their existence threatens its own.
The Beach House draws parallels to environmental crisis in a way that 2008’s The Happening could not. Brown delivered a solid Horror debut with gross imagery, a compelling storyline, and a final girl we could root for. If there is any takeaway from this it is to be mindful of your impact on the world around you… and maybe wear a mask, as it could save your life! That is why Cryptic Rock gives The Beach House 3.5 out of 5 stars.