A high production value outing, riffing on other slashers that while not unique, has a few new things to say.
Synopsis: The graduating class at Osborne High is being targeted by a masked assailant, intent on exposing the darkest secret of each victim, and only a group of misfit outsiders can stop the killings.
While I wouldn’t consider myself a huge slasher fan, the subgenre is responsible for some of the longest running franchises and thrives on references to those before it in order to subvert expectations and reinvent itself. To call There’s Someone Inside Your House a reinvention would be too much – this is fairly standard fare as far as slashers go, but the characters are good. It is perhaps no surprise that director Patrick Brice allows for the beats of Henry Gayden’s script, featuring quips, awkwardness and the performativity of grief, given his involvement with Creep. Again, we’re not in anywhere near as dark or awkward territory as Brice’s work there, but it is nice to see those elements shine through at times, lending a sense of irreverence.
Makani (Sydney Park), like many teenagers, has a secret. So when her high school is targeted by a killer who wears a mask of each victim’s face and outs their secrets, she’s understandably shaken. As the body count rises she and her friends try to navigate the increasingly hostile environment while coming clean about their own transgressions.
Teen slashers tend to rest a great deal on their ensemble cast so it is to the film’s credit that it gets this absolutely right. Each teen is represented with layers, even if some dominant characteristics can come off a little stereotypical. I’d also have loved more for Darby (Jesse LaTourette) and Alex (Asjha Cooper) to do as they feel rather more side-lined than other characters. Cooper in particular steals every moment she is involved with. Sydney Park is required to do a lot of heavy lifting throughout which she manages ably.
The film does feel indebted to previous slashers, taking narrative beats, a killer opening sequence and even a direct shot from Scream. Similarly, a decision to throw a ‘Secret Party’ for the teens to confess their secrets in advance of being made the killer’s next target feels evocative of the would-be orgy arranged in Cherry Falls. Importantly, the film doesn’t linger too much on these similarities, making them nods rather than recreations. Possibly this is due to the story being taken from Stephanie Perkins’ novel, so brings its own depth in that respect.
The gore quota dials up where it needs to and while some may find the mix of humour alongside serious discussions of identity and redemption a little odd, the balance feels right throughout. Also, I’ve been chuckling to myself about the Corn in the USA harvest festival that makes up a section of the film for days now so there are several gags that really land. The weaknesses in the film lie in its ability to connect the threads of the story in a way that feels satisfactory and there is definitely a sense of it fizzling out towards the conclusion. I may be in a minority here, but the mask gimmick did not work for me at all – a fun idea, but incredibly difficult to execute effectively.
A zippy, easy-to-watch slasher that cares about its characters but still manages some irreverent laughs, There’s Someone Inside Your House makes for a fitting Halloween-season watch.
3.5 out of 5 stars
There’s Someone Inside Your House screened as part of Fantastic Fest 2021. See the schedule for more information. The film arrives on Netflix on October 6th.