PLOT: Soon after her father's death, collegiate sexpot Kylie Atkins looks to earn a little extra doe and help her aging mother out by modeling for GirlHouse - a live-in, 24/7 XXX webcam site with five other nubile lookers. But when a demented fanatic's jilted love erupts into a murderous rage...GirlHouse becomes a motherf*cking slaughterhouse.
REVIEW: Save for a quickly brushed logline, I had absolutely slim-to-nil foreknowledge before pervertedly peeping into GIRL HOUSE - the directorial debut of actor-cum-filmmaker Trevor Matthews. Not a trailer, not a poster, no still images, nothing...I stumbled in completely cold. And damn am I glad I did, as, product of low-to-no expectations or otherwise, I was quite surprised to find GIRL HOUSE to be a super-sexy, hyper-gory, tightly-plotted, decently-acted low-budget slasher flick. At once a throwback of sorts - redolent of the vicious 80s slashers we all know and love - and also, through use of webcam and surveillance footage - a bit of a technological presage of what's to come. In a way, the flick executes exactly what HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION failed to do with an extra $13.5 million back in 2002. Slasher fans listen up, if you dig seeing a harem of sexy young naked females getting gorily slayed, flayed and utterly waylaid...do wise and check yourself in to GIRL HOUSE at once!
After a prurient opening credit montage of sexy webcam footage and aural erotica - a hell of a grabber - the flick whisks us back to the tormented childhood of chubby little Loverboy, who we later learn grows up to be the main killer in the story. We gather his lifetime of murderous motivation all stems from the day two little girls tricked him into showing them his junk. He did, they scoffed, he snapped and obdurately tossed one of the gals off a bridge. Nice f*cking fella! Cut to the present where we meet our smokin' female lead Kylie Atkins (Ali Cobrin), bashfully practicing a webcam striptease for her ridiculing roommate Liz. Turns out Kylie's pops just croaked three months prior, and in order to help her bereaving mother out and continue going to college, she's taken up a webcam model job for a sleazy site called GirlHouse - essentially an X-rated version of Big Brother After Dark - where a half dozen naughty nubile college hotties hunker down in a huge mansion in the North Carolina sticks. Of course, the manor is equipped with cameras in every crevice of every room, with each girl having her own personal feed that's moderated by the oily site owner Gary.
And no joke, every girl is fine as fuck here - blonde ice queen Devon, exotic Asian Janet, busty redhead Heather, piquant Latina Anna, gorgeous half-black Kat, and of course Kylie - the pure, innocent brunette with a sinful side. Hell, just watching these gorgeous gals interact together, shoot the shit, peel of their clothes on cam, etc. - as we do in the first half hour or so - would be more than entertaining enough. But when our sadistic psycho Loverboy resurfaces as a fully grown man and devoted patron of Girlhouse, his jilted infatuation with Kylie soon boils over into a seething eruption of baleful butchery. Trust me guys, shit...gets...hectic. Loverboy (played by La Coka Nostra rapper Slain) has that bald, stocky, Pruitt Taylor Vince thing happening...only instead of the infamous darting eyes...he's completely stolid, stoic, emotionless...at times doe-eyed and droolly. He makes for a formidable foe, a hulking stonewall of a maniac, who incurs all kinds of bodily harm with his toolbox of terror: hammers, hacksaws, crowbars, horns, croquette mallets, knives, drills, dildos...my man gets sick with it!
Along the way, conjuring surefire sympathy for our final girl Kylie, we meet her dorky boyfriend-manqué Ben (Adam DiMarco) and his college roomy Alex (Wes MacInnes). Ben has known Kylie since kindergarten, yet only after seeing her on GirlHouse, decides to make a romantic play for her. But he's honest about his intentions, and despite the semi-creepy intro, is diametrically opposed to the lecherous monster that Loverboy proves to be in great excess later on. We also see or hear Kylie keep in touch with her crestfallen mother, her concerned roommate Liz, and even later in the film, go out of her way to help the previously snooty blonde GirlHouse mate Devon. Not that actress Ali Cobrin needs any extra incentive to like her naturally sweet presence onscreen, but these scenes went a long way in lending even more care for Kylie once she becomes the object of a lethal obsession. She isn't simply a damsel in distress here, a futile nymph reeling from her father's death - no, she's a strong, thoughtful and independent little lass, which is typically more than you get in a film of this ilk. And thus, makes her far more likeable and us, by proxy, much more vested.
And really, likeable is what I found this flick to be all around. It by no means reinvents the slasher wheel, let's be clear, but so what, it's executed just as well or better than a number of slasher series sequels we still know and love to this day. For example, as boasted above, I'm very confident in calling this a better effort than HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION, particularly in its innovative use of new technology in tandem with old tried and true slasher tropes. In that regard, the flick is much more akin, qualitatively, to another 2002 techno-live-in-slasher MY LITTLE EYE (starring Bradley Cooper), which would probably make a perfect double feature with GIRL HOUSE. Actually, I found the acting in GIRL HOUSE to be slightly more believable, which makes sense given the number of high-profile flicks most of the cast previously appeared in. Cobrin, just as one example, appeared in both NEIGHBORS and AMERICAN REUNION, playing substantial roles in each. Her experience goes a long way in selling the character.
As for detractors, the flick has a few. First off, working under a tight million dollar budget lends inherent strictures, mostly in terms of below the line resources. As such the flick won't be mistaken for a Roger Deakins lit masterwork, but to be fair, few are. To be fair, the chintzy video quality may have been a byproduct of a slow internet connection (online screener), but in a way, watching this kind of interactive web-based thriller on an actual computer may have actually rendered the overall experience more effective, as I felt sort of complicit in a lot of the webcam voyeurism the flick features. I generally argue against watching a flick on the computer, but this one actually worked symbiotically with such exhibition. Other than that, there were a few other issues I took umbrage with. The design of Loverboy's mask, once he decides to shroud his identity, is far too much of a Rob Zombie Michael Meyers crib-job...we've seen that before. So to have we seen a grisly sauna scene (WAR OF THE ROSES if nothing else), as well as the green-filtered night-vision image of a girl being dragged across the floor, a la, REC.
Minor gripes of unoriginality aside, GIRL HOUSE is a competent, surprisingly sexy, super-gruesome slasher bash. I had a hell of a time watching a half dozen gorgeously diverse college hotties getting their supple bodies ripped, torn and excoriated in equally diverse ways. But more than that, the tight plotting from screenwriter Nick Gordon, all surrounded by a truly likable lead in Ali Cobrin as Kylie - in addition to the meld of new technology with classic slasher tenets - is what makes GIRL HOUSE stand out among a rather boring neighborhood of contemporaries. Give it a tour!