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Our House (Movie Review)

Our House (Movie Review)
7 10

PLOT: A machine that can bring back dead loved ones seems like a great idea…until you unleash the wrong spirits. When his parents are killed in a car accident, science wiz Ethan (Thomas Mann) must leave behind college and his girlfriend (Nicola Peltz) to care for his younger brother and sister. By day, he juggles the responsibilities of raising two kids; by night, he tinkers in the garage on an invention he hopes will change the world: a machine that can generate wireless electricity. He gets more than he bargained for, however, when the device awakens the dead souls that haunt the house. As Ethan and his siblings attempt to make contact with their parents, a horrifying realization sets in: not all the spirits in their midst may be friendly. This hair-raising science-fiction ghost story is a nightmare journey into a past that refuses to stay dead and buried.

REVIEW: I'm always down for a solid haunted house flick and when I first saw the trailer for IFC Midnight's upcoming release of director Anthony Scott Burns’ feature debut, the supernatural suspense thriller OUR HOUSE I was on the hook. The film sports a killer cast with Thomas Mann (KONG: SKULL ISLAND) and Nicola Peltz (BATES MOTEL). But it also sports one of the better premises I have heard in some time, "What if you could CREATE ghosts?" All of that digested, I was ready to let my screener of OUR HOUSE roll. What did I think? Let's find out!

The film kicks off with our trio of young hero scientists (played with endless charm by Mann, Peltz, and Aaron Hale) deciding in the middle of family dinner that it's time to finally run off and try out their new science experiment, a device that aims to create "wireless electricity" called Eli. Just as their project starts to ramp up the correct amount of electricity, a strange black smoke begins to engulf the lightbulb they are using and then - pow! - the lights go out. Weak. But creepy. I wonder what that black smoke was? I bet you we find out, right? The next day we find out that our hero Thomas Mann's mother and father were killed in a car accident. From here, the film's plot begins it's descent into scientific hell.

To begin this review, it must be pointed out that the main reason for recommending this film isn't so much the frights and the horror - we'll get to that bag of bones in a bit here. No, the single best aspect of this film is the caliber of its cast. From Mann to Peltz, the cast of young characters are all beyond likable and that made all the difference to me. Add to that, the fact that this film is filled to the brim with family drama and I'm thinking this might be one of the - don't run off just yet - sweetest horror movies I've ever seen. 

You see, when the parents kick the premature bucket in the film's opening minutes, it's then up to Mann's young college student character to take care of his remaining siblings. This includes his little brother Matt (played with suitable teen angst by Percy Hynes White) and his adorable little sister Becca (played with supreme sweetness by Kate Moyer). I know it can sometimes be considered a gimmick or easy trick to put kids in peril and call it horror and/or suspense, but this story makes it all work, and the actors elevate the strong screenplay as well.

And speaking of the film's script, screenwriter Matt Osterman, who - along with Nathan Parker - adapted this script from his own zero-budget flick GHOST FROM THE MACHINE, makes the horror work time and time again. This is because Osterman and Parker know the dynamics of a true family and so (thank God) nothing in this film regarding the family feels forced or faked. In fact, you could think of this film as the second act of a worthy double feature along with Spielberg and Hooper's POLTERGEIST. And while this film doesn't sport the budget (or quite frankly the super-talent) of all those involved with that film, this is a better POLTERGEIST redux than the actual remake. 

On the dull side of the blade, there really isn't much horror to be found in this horror movie. Sure, some parts are spooky and the third act gets a bit wild, but overall, this film is much more content to play out as a family-drama (with ghosts) than a horror movie with some family-drama in there for the feels. Plus, Nicola Peltz is gone from the movie for FAR too long in spots. These issues pull the film's final rating down in my eyes. Still worth a watch though, for sure. 

Overall, we all know by this point that solid horror flicks work best when we care about those involved in the potential slaughter and in that aspect, OUR HOUSE succeeds in spades. Like I said above, IFC Midnight and director Anthony Scott Burns’ OUR HOUSE is one of the sweetest horror movies I have ever seen. The family drama is just as potent as the horror on hand and that was a nice change of pace if you ask me. What's wrong with a little bit of sugar mixed in with our spookfest? Exactly, not a thing. In the end, this is one of those rare horror movies where not only didn't I want to see the main cast bite the big one, I was actively rooting for ALL of them to make it out safely. Do they? I'll never tell.

Extra Tidbit: OUR HOUSE hits VOD and select theaters on July 27th.
Source: AITH

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