The originality of Netflix’s recent horror offerings is questionable, which is to say that these movies often stand on the shoulders of their genre predecessors. Fear Street’s series is so reminiscent of its predecessors. Scream Friday 13thAnd The WitchThat it failed to create an identity. There is no one who gets out aliveThere are noticeable overlaps His HouseIn terms of how to reimagine a haunted home as a source for socially fraught terror or tension. And the streaming service’s latest, There’s Someone Inside Your HouseFilms like “The Godfather” are also a major source of debt for. Black Christmas HazeAnd It’s time to tell me what you did last SummerIt explicitly refers to the following: It contains one disturbing conceit. There’s Someone Inside Your House, but that one genuinely spooky detail can’t counter the overall familiarity. There’s Someone Inside Your HouseAlthough it is sometimes effective, it ultimately fails to be remarkable and feels like a product that was not yet mature enough.
In adapting Stephanie Perkins’ 2017 novel, director Patrick Brice and screenwriter Henry Gayden rely too often on simplistic dynamics that make for flat world-building. There’s little depth here to either the location or the characters. The small town consists of a school, a police station, a church, and cornfields — obviously, viewers are meant to understand that it’s meant to be oppressive. The outcast protagonists are ethnically, biologically, and sexually diverse — it’s clear viewers are intended to empathize with their otherness. The bullies are all mini neo-Nazis, with dialogue that lambasts “fake news,” advocates an alliance with white power, and regurgitates toxic masculinity. They are likely to have voted for Donald Trump as their parents.
All of these components feel trite and illegible, as if Gayden is ticking boxes on a list that Gen-Z teens will like. It is this superficiality that makes it so difficult to see the point. There’s Someone Inside Your HouseIt must be unique in the slasher section to stand out. Results are not consistent there. In an unnerving touch, the killer wears a 3D-printed copy of their latest victim’s face. That costuming choice underscores the killer’s ideology that each of the victims deserves death for their hypocrisy. These slasher scenes lack the propulsive energy or over-the top grotesquerie that are needed to make you jolt. There’s Someone Inside Your HouseYou are the key to your own happiness. Although there are bloody bursts from cut-open tendons and torsos as well as the throats, the artificiality of the candy-red gore runs throughout the entire movie.
There’s Someone Inside Your House set in rural Osborne, an insular community shocked by the film’s opening-scene murder of football player Jackson Pace (Markian Tarasiuk). The photos strewn around Jackson’s dead body and texted to everyone in town reveal an ugly secret: He once beat up teammate Caleb Greeley (Burkely Duffield) in a hazing ritual gone too far. Some people point fingers at Caleb for Jackson’s death, while others, like those Jackson harassed and abused for years, feel a sense of grim satisfaction.
Makani Young (Sydney Park), a recent arrival to town, hovers on the outer edges of these reactions. Makani left Hawaii and went to Osborne with her grandmother. She didn’t know Jackson very well, but she sees how his death fails to faze her friends: outspoken Alex (Asjha Cooper), sensitive Rodrigo (Diego Josef), space-obsessed Darby (Jesse LaTourette), and irresponsible Zach (Dale Whibley). They don’t really care that Jackson is dead (“Fuck these reactive people!” Darby says of her former bully), but they’re curious who could have done it. And they’re quick to point fingers at classmate Ollie Larsson (Théodore Pellerin), who they describe as an “all-in-black school-shooter style icon,” and casually label a sociopath.
No one seems to catch the longing eyes Makani and Ollie are making at each other, because Makani’s friends are too busy doing what teenagers in all horror movies do. They get together, party, miss the murderer, then they die. The cycle continues in this way: There’s Someone Inside Your HouseIt is the same as ever.
On the good side of things are Park and Pellerin, who give the film’s most naturalistic performances as Makani and Ollie. A secret make-out session in a parked car has more thrills than any of the film’s murder sequences because of Park and Pellerin’s oppositional chemistry, which brings to mind the doomed J.D. Veronica HeathersThis is a. Less successful is William Arnold’s production design, in particular the prevalence of secret-revealing photographs at each murder scene. These hundreds of images with bloodied faces and burnt hands are printed so fast that the film loses its impact. (The killer has at least made good use of the printer!)
But the staging of these scenes exhibits more care than the film’s attempted critique of white privilege, which results in an altercation so soaked in Serious Statements that it forgets horror can have a little bit of fun. There are two subplots about hazing that go wrong. This raises the question, “Why not add another?”
“I have watched a lot of true crime,” sniffs student council president Katie Koons (Sarah Dugdale) when the murders start happening, and that statement applies to There’s Someone Inside Your HouseOn a larger scale. This is a film crafted by people who are aware of the genre’s tropes, but unaware of how to put a unique spin on them. The result is that the film never fully transcends the level of “put on in the background while decorating for Halloween” movie. Is there a great next slasher movie? Who will dare be so inventive and gruesome? There’s Someone Inside Your HouseThey will not be satisfied.
There’s Someone Inside Your HouseNetflix will stream on Oct. 6, 2021.
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