Bagboy Productions, Gratwick Films, Prime Films
Distributor: Wild Eye Releasing
Release length: 1:24:00
Right off the bat, it needs to be established that the marketing behind the DVD release of The Perfect House doesn’t quite explain the concept of this film properly. Going in, you may expect this to be more like a ghost story with the new owners learning of the past through experiences with the dead and discovering things on their own. At least, that’s how it sounded to me upon reading the summary on the back, as well as on many external websites. Sadly, this isn’t the case. The Perfect House is actually set up as a series of short stories that unravel as the film’s main premise of a newlywed couple interested in buying the building from an oversexed realtor who explains away things regarding the basement that triggers random flashbacks that explain these things such as marks on the ground and the prior existence of walls or cages. If you go in expecting anything but three random stories of murder and revenge, well, you’re not going to like this as much as you might.
The first tale is about a family that seeks refuge in the basement during a bad storm. Tensions rise as the mother continues to berate everyone until she finds pictures of some kind. Upon the discovery, the family members start dying as the power flickers on and off, leading to a stand off between the survivors that unravel the reasons for said hostility within the family. This is a much shorter story that kind of goes off the rails fairly fast, but the following about a serial killer and the woman he he refuses to kill for the sake of having an audience does space things out a bit. The trapped girl wants to die already, pleading to be put out of her mercy as she outlines the fate for the next victim brought in. Much like any sort of snuff film, the victim is tortured by being forced to watch past deaths and choose his fate, drugged, and even havin his eye lids cut off to watch as more pain is inflicted.
The second story eats up most of the film’s time, but the third has already been established. Before the opening credits the family next door goes into the home to have dinner with the owner before he goes away. There’s plenty of tension already present, largely having to do with a borrowed weed whacker which the husband next door had in his possession, but threw away because it was junk. There’s more to this tale, as the family is tied up in the basement with each member being used to set an example. The daughter is told to dress up like “the whore she is” for when the owner of the house comes back, the sons are forced to kill the other in order to save their mother’s life, all coming together as a form of sick and twisted justice that anyone who had someone be so careless to them or their belongings would immediately relate to having similar desires of payback. All of this ends with the grim future of the basement being set up for yet another round of victims.
The Perfect House overall isn’t a bad movie in concept, but it does trip up on a few key elements. First of all there’s little seperation between the flash backs and present day. Other than being obvious due to different people, there’s only an establishing segway in and out of the stories to make you aware you’re going through time, though the time periods are never really established other than the technology present in the scenes. Aside the first tale that could have happened in the seventies or eighties, the last two seem relatively modern. The background the realtor gives about the house also isn’t that useful other than establishing the next story or explaining how the opening scene plays into the house next door being vacant. A little more depth on its construction and age would have greatly helped give the builing a little more life, especially since it, more importantly the basement, are the real stars of the film.
The other problem wound up being the acting. The first story is so quick that top-notch acting isn’t really that necessary to convey what was happening, but the second two tales definitely needed believable characters that pretty much none of the actors or actresses lived up to. Practically everyone involved looked stiff and sounded like they were just following along a predetermined path. It also didn’t help that there was very little background on any of them other than in the final story which only had some growth to the players thanks to the opening scene that fleshed out the attitudes of some of the family members a little more than what is told through the small flashbacks within that very flashback.
The production, however, looked spot on to convey the right visual emotions of the house. Upstairs and on the ground floor had plenty of light. Everything felt open and happy, the perfect house to spend the rest of your life in and raise a family. The basement, however, often felt dark and unwelcoming, sometimes even burdening in the stories, especially the final one. The second, however, shifted between gloomy and sleak depending on if the lights were on and what kind of electronics were present. But the most important thing that was done right was the light upon exiting the basement, or looking at the outside through the storm doors outside that lead right into it. The basking white that looked like the gates of heaven opening up was the sign of triumph over the cellar, or the passing on into another world all together, making that floor of the house into what the story makes it out to be: Hell.
The Perfect House isn’t really that bad a film, but there could have been so much more done to make it a stronger offering. The tales of violent revenge are often all too common in one way or another to the viewer, feeding one guilty pleasure or another in the name of justice to make the victim or victims whole once more. The problem is these powerfully aggressive tales do not have a strong enough cast to make you care about nearly all those people involved, nor is there enough information about the house itself presented to make it feel like a living, breathing thing waiting for the next twisted bastard to come take residence in order to add more bodies to the collection. The way this venture is handled, either of the last two stories could easily have been, and honestly should have been their own movie, fleshed out a little more to make the impact they leave a longer lasting one. But, in the end, for a film shot in fourteen days, The Perfect House makes for a decent late night film for those who love watching the darkest intentions of man, or are generally creeped out by basements, as long as you don’t buy into the overhyped marketing that sums things up in a way the film itself simply cannot deliver on with the rushed production time and fairly poor acting.
|Overall Score: 5.5/10