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Monday, July 21, 2014

DVD Review: The Perfect House

The Perfect House is a horror anthology, with several stories that all take place at various times in one house. It opens with a close-up shot of a closed door. The door opens, and a family comes out, the father telling the daughter, “Get off the phone.” They walk next door to Mr. Sullivan’s house for dinner, and it’s a quiet, creepy scene. Mr. Sullivan is hung up on getting his weed whacker back. When the father admits he tossed it, the screen goes black. It’s a good, sufficiently unsettling opening, which also has just the right amount of humor (and the right kind of humor).

We then go to a young married couple, Marisol and Mike, who are looking to buy their first house. It’s a sunny day on a suburban street, in contrast to dark events of the film, and Marisol is determined to get this house. It’s revealed in the dialogue that the price has dropped enough that it’s come into their price range. And when they arrive at the house, Mike comments that the house next door is for sale too.

The real estate agent (Monique Parent) is delightfully quirky. She says, “You two are just the cutest couple,” which you might expect any real estate agent to say. But she follows it with “I just want to jump right in the sack with the both of you,” which you probably wouldn’t expect a real estate agent to say. (She’s a hot redhead, so I wouldn’t be opposed were I in Mike’s position.) When she indicates that all the furniture is include, Marisol whispers to Mike, “If we buy this place, all this stuff goes.” It’s interesting that Marisol has already gone from definitely wanting the house, to using the word “if.” It’s subtle, but shows that she already, perhaps subconsciously, knows that something is wrong. Mike immediately finds a red stain on a chair, which stretches believability a bit. The real estate agent flirts some more in the bedroom. Mike’s reactions and facial expressions are a bit much; there is nothing subtle about his performance here.

As they go into the basement, we have a flashback to earlier tenants down there during a big storm, and this is essentially the first of three short stories that all take place in the house, and particularly in the basement. (And there are flashbacks within the flashback.) We return to Marisol and Mike briefly before going into the next story.

The second story is about a man who keeps a woman in a cage in the basement. She acts as his muse, his audience (he calls her his partner), as he tortures and murders people. There’s a nice moment where the psycho has set up a television so the new torture victim can watch some of his earlier work. What I love is the shot of the girl (Holly Greene) looking over at the screen. She’s eating, and she looks over at the television like she’s watching some regular program during dinner. It’s a wonderfully casual, slightly interested look. She then comments on it, which takes away a bit from the moment, but is still interesting. I also like that we don’t see what’s on the screen, only the guy’s reaction. And while we don’t see the horror on the screen, there are certainly some gruesome shots in this story.

The third story is the family from the opening scene. And there are some more gruesome shots and some screwed up scenes that should appeal to horror fans.

This is a good independent, low-budget horror film. Sure, there is some uneven acting throughout the film, especially in the final scene. And I have to wonder why all the opening credits are replayed at the end of the film (perhaps simply to extend the length of the movie). But there is plenty of good stuff to appeal to horror fans. It’s interesting, because it doesn’t seem like the house turns good people bad. It’s that awful people are attracted to this house. The house wants a certain type of person to inhabit it. And that makes me wonder what the real estate agent’s connection is to it. I wanted a little more with her, something revealing her relation to it, besides that simply of her job. They’ve created an interesting character here whose tie to the house is different from that of other characters, so it seems she could have been used to better effect.

Special Features

The DVD has a lot of bonus material. Unfortunately, much of it is pointless and poorly shot.

Q&A Highlight Reel is footage from Q&A sessions after screenings of the film. This feature is approximately 103 minutes. The first Q&A is from Denver, and the sound isn’t that good, and because the panel was in the dark, we see other footage during it, which is really odd. The second, in Aurora, has a bit more light, but we still are shown other footage. They talk about two sequels they want to do. The third is from Elmira, New York. The fourth is in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The fifth is in Philadelphia, and suddenly the sound is much better for this Q&A. They talk about reshooting the ending of the film. The next is in Orlando, Florida, and this one is well lit. That one is really short. From there, they go to Buffalo, New York.

The bonus material includes the original ending, which is without a final audio mix. There is also some behind-the-scenes footage, with brief interviews with crew members and with cast members Monique Parent, Chris Raab and John Philbin.

Creation Of The Perfect House RV is four minutes of footage of an RV that they bought and fixed for their promotional tour. This and On The Road, which is footage of a meeting regarding promotion of the film and footage of guys on their laptops, are pointless and not at all interesting.

Buffalo: Countdown To Facebook Premiere is footage of the cast and crew gathering to watch the film in celebration of its premiere on Facebook, applauding each other, and then someone asking the actors if they liked the film. It’s basically a lot of jerking off, which is only interesting to those involved and possibly their closest family members. Buffalo: TV Press begins with video of crew members talking about getting sleep and doing laundry and catching up on emails and so on (who cares?), but then it becomes interesting when it turns to footage from a local television program where Andrea Vahl and Kris Hulbert appeared as guests.

Basement Walkthrough is pre-production video footage of the basement location.

There are four trailers for the film. In addition to the regular film trailer, there is a one-minute teaser trailer, an “audience trailer” (which includes feedback from audience members and quotes from reviews), and the original spec trailer. It’s interesting to see from the spec trailer which things they changed when they shot the film, and which they kept the same.

The Perfect House was directed by Kris Hulbert and Randy Kent, and is scheduled to be released on DVD on July 22, 2014 through Wild Eye Releasing.

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