This Netflix horror film is a tangled marriage of progressive politics and retrograde genre.
Admirably varied and scandalously precarious, Patrick Brice’s teen-slasher film, “There’s Someone Inside Your House,” attempts to both update and bend a genre that peaked decades ago. But in trying to do it both ways, Brice creates a jumbled, over-loaded parody of moral policing that defies the promise of its cleverly executed opening.
That sequence, genius in its simplicity (and the only one to truly justify the film’s title), depicts the murder of a high-school quarterback who brutally thrashed a gay teammate. The homophobia of the barely dead was channeled into the stunned student body when their racist president was also killed. As the murders – and, arguably more gruesome, online exposure – continue, the film looks at it from the perspective of a group of social outcasts led by Makani (Sydney Park, alternating between stunned and bereaved), a traumatic past. A transfer student with.
Set in small-town Nebraska and adapted from Stephanie Perkins’ novel of the same name, Henry Gayden’s screenplay draws on immaterial plot lines—such as police privatization and the evils of agribusiness—and scandalous characters. The only standout is Theodore Pellerin as the prime suspect and Makani’s secret hookup: Dancing on the line between creepy and sexy, Pellerin never misses a step.
The same can’t be said for a story that disastrously allows Makani’s barely relevant personal issues to take those of the killer off-screen. They stifle even the smartest touches of plot, like a party where the students undo the onslaught by confessing their darkest secrets. Or the killer’s habit of wearing masks that match each victim’s face, causing them to become casualties in their actions. This is the best joke of the movie.