Movies

{Movie Review} The Beach House

“We are totally fucked”

The Beach House

The last two years have been full of horror films that use troubled relationships as the framing agent for the greater horror to come. That relationship is old. I have seen too many break ups, too many bear suits, and way too many shitty boyfriends. So when we initially meet Randall (Noah le Gros) and he seems not so great I said to myself “here we go again”.

I was wrong. I was wrong about how director Jeffrey A. Brown treated Randall and how he crafted the relationship between Randall and Emily (Liano Liberato). Randall has his head in the clouds and Emily has her feet firmly planted on the ground and neither is treated as a villain. It feels like a real relationship with each contributing value and exacting costs from each other. It’s in that relationship the dread of The Beach House hibernates.

The framing agent aside as the movie progresses and we meet older couple Mitch and Jane (It is really great to see Jake Weber in another film). The Beach House becomes way less concerned about the relationship and way more concerned about the Sargasso out of space that seems to be gathering on the shore. Brown does an outstanding job of creating and environment that feels both familiar and increasingly alien. We get passing glances of the alien algae that seems to be invading the shoreline. These moments play really well with the other alien from beyond features from early this year. Both The Beach House and Sea Fever disguise their small budgets by telling intimate stories that highlight exceptional acting.

The story unfolds with incredible body horror during the day and a dense fog at night. The fog in The Beach House itself is a throwback to another horror classic. The final act of the movie takes a decidedly bleak turn as the movie resigns itself to its fate. This kind of cosmic bleakness seems fitting for where we are as a culture right now. The elements of The Body Snatchers that The Beach House embraces helps make the movie even more relevant. A disembodied voice comes out of the radio and tells Emily and Randall to stay inside. Despite the voice they risk the relative safety of their homes to try and escape. Sounds too familiar and makes it a perfect entry for a stay movie binge.

At the core of The Beach House is a deep paranoia of everything and everyone around our two protagonists. I found myself falling into and exploring my own personal bias as Randall and Emily sought out refuge. Should they go into the house with the pick up truck parked in the front? Do you break windows of your neighbors house if it is an emergency? How well do we really know the people in our neighborhood? Can we rely on them to help us keep everyone safe? As the movie progressed I realized just how prescient the movie had become.

Brown’s directing is so confident if you did not watch his Q and A at the Chattanooga Film Festival you would have had no idea his budget was so small or the beach conditions so unfavorable. I cannot wait to see what a slightly bigger budget will help create. I am always a sucker for small horror movies that could very easily be turned into stage plays. Obviously there are some really incredibly special effects, especially early in the film. However, the drama of the film, the core of action, is how these two handle the horrific challenges that face them. In that way it shares some of the creepy crawly nature of Bug another of my underrated favorites. The film implores you to not be afraid, that there isn’t anything to be scared of. Frankly speaking, there is a lot to be scared of and its mostly us and not the invading organisms. Horror is at it again.

The Beach House is a small contained film which only adds to its charm. It doesn’t overreach but still finds a way to raise the stakes for the characters involved. The smallness of the setting and plot manage to host all of the action and paranoia of a larger film. The result is a dynamo of a film and one that manages to creep me out from the beginning of the film. From unsettled dinner party to terrifying denouement The Beach House could be the scariest a movie to watch in a post pandemic world.

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