House Hunting

Why is that in horror films, the only families that are allowed to exist are dysfunctional ones? Truly, at this point I think that I would be more creeped out by a stable, happy family environment-even a mixed family. House Hunting definitely uses the tension of ‘Dad remarried’ or ‘Dad’s sort of nasty’ to its extreme.

Actually this film likes to use tension to its extreme, even beyond the point where it’s effective. News flash, horror writers and producers: there comes a point where if everyone is flailing and screaming all the time, it can induce chronic eye rolling in your viewers. Especially when you start relying on it ten minutes into the film.

The most effective character in this movie is the house itself. The adult women in the movie seem to be deliberately ineffective and the men are almost insultingly macho and insensitive. The teenagers seem to ooze angst in a way that screams overacting. The house, however, makes up for whatever acting weaknesses the cast exhibits.

For one, the house actually seems deserted. A lot of deserted/empty house movies feature a house that I have a hard time accepting as actually being empty. For another, and this may read like an obvious statement, the lack of the house’s emotion seems to force the extreme emotion of the cast into an area that heightens the tension and not the annoyance. There are movies where the house has a distinct emotion or personality-this just reads as empty, and in a lot of places that would be a flaw but here it actually works to play up how nasty these people are. I sort of don’t want them to be able to drive away if only to punish them a little for being bad people.

The repetition aspect of this film is what kept it fairly interesting for me. I  probably would have turned it off early on if it wasn’t for the main plot device. The lack of insight into why all roads lead back home adds just enough tension to make it intriguing. For once (heh) it doesn’t feel like a dream-it actually feels like limbo. There’s a lot of things that this could mean-the cyclic nature of life, the way that we fall into meaningless patterns, the way that society forces us into the lives it wants us to have. Does it matter? Maybe, maybe not. But the repetition takes the horribleness of the people stuck in the house and makes the film work.

Also, I love the labels on the stew cans. Yes, I am that person that pays attention to set details.


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