Staying in the wheelhouse of horror films that focus on high schoolers, Netflix’s latest horror entry is There’s Someone Inside Your House, based on Stephanie Perkins’ New York Times best-selling novel and adapted by Henry Gayden (Shazam!). With a star-making turn by Sydney Park as Makani Young, the movie concerns a small-town Nebraska community with a senior class nearing graduation and full of secrets. The class is being picked off one by one by a killer that dons a mask that looks exactly like the victim’s face, forcing them to confront their darkest secrets (being a closeted white supremacist, for example), exposing those secrets to the world, and then killing them with remarkable efficiency and maximum blood.
Directed by Patrick Brice (the Creep films) and produced by James Wan (The Conjuring, Malignant) and Shawn Levy, There’s Someone Inside Your House handles teen angst better than most horror stories where high schools are the primary targets (the first Fear Street film, for instance), with Makani having a pretty substantial truth about her early childhood growing up in Hawaii she’s keeping secret, including the reason she now lives with her grandmother (BJ Harrison) in the midwest. She knows it’s only a matter of time before the killer makes his/her way to her sins, and she seems to care more about being discovered than being killed, which feels authentic.
I also liked her group of friends—mostly outcasts who have each others’ backs and rally around each other to protect themselves from this knife-wielding killer. Asiha Cooper plays Alex Crisp, a natural-born cynic with a ferocious wit; Théodore Pellerin plays Makani’s on-again/off-again boyfriend Ollie Larsson, who is an early and obvious suspect (which of course means he’s not the killer); and perhaps most interestingly, Burkely Duffield is football player Caleb Greeley, who seems drawn to this group, while also fitting in nicely with the jocks. The film isn’t just a series of set ups and knock downs, with teens getting brutalized for 90-some minutes; it cares about these kids and their troubles, with the killings almost serving as more of a heightened background than the biggest threat around.
By the time we get to the climactic set piece of the movie, set in the middle of a burning corn maze that is visually breathtaking, director Price has done such a solid job with character building that I almost didn’t care who the killer was, and I certainly wasn’t that impressed with the reveal or rationale for the murders. There are certainly horror films that attempt to give us something in the realm of blood and guts that we haven’t seen before, and that’s always appreciated. There’s Someone Inside Your House isn’t that movie. The kills are good-to-great, but what the film really has going for it are fleshed-out characters whose fate we are actually invested in. This is still a relatively new concept, especially in the realm of slasher movies, and I admire and whole-heartedly approve of the way the filmmakers give us living, breathing, feeling teenagers… before they start slicing them to pieces.
The film is now streaming on Netflix.
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