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PLAYING HOUSE
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Reviewed by: Ammon Gilbert

Directed by: Tom Vaughan

Starring:
Mayra Leal
Sarah Prikryl
Craig Welbacher

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A young married couple can afford their dream house as long as the groom’s best friend rents out one of their rooms. All is fine until said best friend hooks up with a new chick who then becomes obsessed with the groom until her want and need of a perfect marriage and a perfect house results in… murder. A solid crazy chick movie ensues.
Is it good movie?
More than anyone can probably explain, there’s something about crazy chick movies that are so flippin’ entertaining and fun that audiences can rarely get enough. Whether it’s the mecca of the crazy chick (FATAL ATTRACTION, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE), to the bland crazy chick (SWIMFAN, THE ROOMMATE), to the downright awful (OBSESSED), these flicks spell fun with a capital B, making even the lamest attempt at rocking the genre a solid good time. Hence PLAYING HOUSE, a fairly low budget romp into the psyche of yet another crazy chick with obsessive and violent behavior that ultimately sends her over the edge, taking the object of her obsession (and everyone around them) down with her.

PLAYING HOUSE is a solid mix of SWF meets OBSESSED meets THE STEPFATHER, slapped with a relatively hard R rating (language and nudity!), a surprisingly high (for a crazy chick flick) body count, and a talented cast of rather unknowns, edging it better than both OBSESSED and THE ROOMMATE, and right up there with SWIMFAN—a solid ride that’s less than perfect but gets the job done without being totally idiotic or selling out for a more family-friendly PG-13 rating. And while a rating shouldn’t make or break a movie in terms of quality, when we’re talking about a smokin’ hot crazy chick, nothing shows off how hot or how crazy she is than some gratuitous nudity and some blood-splattering violence, and PLAYING HOUSE delivers both in spades.

Of course, with a low budget, the gore is pretty limited, but there’s plenty of bloody aftermath to clean up to satisfy the imagination of the carnage that unfolds. The crazy chick in question is played by Mayra Leal, a definite looker who doesn’t mind showing off her goods—and who has a surprisingly sinister side to her when she lets her guard down. Sarah Prikryl plays the wife and lets us know from the start that she doesn’t like this biotch hanging around her house or her man, but can’t prove anything until it’s too late. Think of the Beyonce character from OBSESSED. She does a decent job and probably has the best set of acting chops than anyone else in the film. And finally, the main man, the object of said crazy chick’s desire is played by Craig Welbacher. He does an alright job, but nothing to write home about, and probably the weakest of the top three leads.

While it’s a lot of fun in the thrills department and watching this chick infiltrate this home and dig her crazy-ass fingers into everyone in the house, PLAYING HOUSE is not without its problems. For starters, the best friend with whom said crazy chick hooks up with in the beginning is a pudgy goofball—meaning, not very believable that this chick would go for him in the first place. But she’s crazy, so I guess that’s a moot point. I guess the biggest issue is the film’s pace—it’s too slow, or rather, too uneven to keep you sucked in the entire time. At only 80 minutes, this should feel fast and furious, and yet I was checking the clock as early as 45 minutes in because it felt like it had been 2 hours already. With a tighter script, more exciting music to elevate the tension and the thrills, this could have been the ultimate crazy chick flick. But once it kick-starts into the exciting conclusion, logic takes a backseat and a few stupid decisions later, and I’m scratching my head with a big ol’ WTF grin on my face. Sure, I still had a good time, but I can only suspend my belief so much. On the whole though, I had a lot more fun with PLAYING HOUSE than I thought I would have, edging into one of the more entertaining crazy chick flicks out there.

Video / Audio
Video: Anamorphic widescreen of 1.85:1 gets the job done here, with the exterior shots looking amazingly like a ‘real film’ and most interior shots looking like video from someone’s home movie collection. It was an odd transition between the two, but they eventually figured it out and made the interiors look a whole helluva lot better.

Audio: 5.1 Dolby Surround Mix is what it is, nothing more… nothing less.

The Extras
No extras to be found.
Last Call
While made on a super low budget, PLAYING HOUSE manages to be an entry in the crazy chick genre worth checking out. The chick is hot and scary in her craziness and when she goes nuts, the body count rises with bloody results. Definitely not a perfect movie, as it has serious pacing issues and drags through much of the middle, but in the end, it’s an entertaining ride that’s (more or less) fun to watch.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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