The Beach House [2019]

Don’t be scared…


Directed by Jeffrey A. Brown, The Beach House follows the story of two sweethearts on a little getaway. Emily and Randall head to the beach to have some sex-nanigans only to realise they have forgotten rule 101 of science fiction horror films… you’re not allowed to have sex and have fun and survive to tell the tale!! Duh!

The story starts with them arriving at the beach house that Randall’s dad owns, only to discover they have company in the form of Randall’s dad’s friends Mitch and Jane. Both couples agree to stay and well, one thing leads to another and they end up having some heavy psychedelics and BOOM. A mist descends on the beach and they find themselves in the heart of a mysterious infection causing people to turn into zombies, complete with neon(?) puke. But do they make it out alive…?

It’s funny because I saw this on Shudder and it was categorised as one of the ‘Best of 2020’ films so I came into watching it with a certain expectation to be blown away, and I came away from it instead feeling pretty ambivalent.

The main characters were a young couple, one of whom was studying to be a scientist but oftentimes I found them to be unintelligible.

I liked the concept, that these spores were infecting people, and the way the director hid it under the guise of psychedelics was pretty sneaky because as viewers we watch and think we are seeing things through the eyes of the characters which is to say that what we’re seeing isn’t real, that it’s a hallucination due to the drugs. So at first I thought that it was just that. As the film continued on, I realised that was not the case, which made what Emily says of these spores when she sees them pretty silly in hindsight. She says there’s “something in the air… usually it’s in the water…” When I thought back to that scene it made me think ‘what. are. you. talking. about.’ If the shimming floaters were spores, which is what you suppose as a viewer, you know that those would be flying through the air, so to hear a supposed scientist make such weird deductions was just really confusing.

The film is beautifully shot. To hand it to the directors, many of the actual daylight beach shots had this clean, symmetrical look to them before things start to fall apart for the main characters.

I enjoyed the Mitch/Jane storyline, that she’s sick and he’s bringing her there for her last chance to see this view, because it ends up being her last… and it’s the most brutal last trip you could take, in more ways than one.

I also really enjoyed the gorey scene where Emily gets stung by some weird sea creature that is half spiney thing half jellyfish half I don’t know what, and you see it crawl in her foot. The fact that it’s daylight when this happens makes it all the more shocking. You expect weird things to happen in the night! Not in daylight. I could really feel her pain as she pulled it out of her foot.

All in all, I really wanted to be excited by this film but I think the slow ‘tension’ build up let the film down. There’s quite a large disparity between what critics see in this film versus actual audiences, e.g. on Rotten Tomatoes the critic score was 80% positive whereas the audience score was only 27%. I think this is just one of those films that you either love or hate. I was personally expecting a lot more to be made of the film after such a long build up but was left feeling pretty empty after Emily spent what felt like hours looking for an oxygen tank so she could get in a car and get away, only to abandon the tank and drive it into a tree. If that’s not a metaphor for the whole film, I don’t know what is. Huge potential; visually great sea creature, great CGI in the psychedelic scenes, gorey and creepy looking zombies. With the right actors/storyline ‘behind the wheel’ of this film, it could have been really something. Instead, it got confused and, well, drove itself into a tree…. Would love to hear what horror buffs think of this film. Lemme know in the comments!

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A report on the party & the guests [2020, SciFi London 2020]

“Good afternoon citizen. Is your life without meaning?”


This Danish film, directed by Søren Peter Langkjær Bojsen, is a really unusual one. A creature who calls himself Rudolph washes up on a beach in Estonia with his unconscious mother. He talks some nearby strangers to help him get her to a car, saying she has heat stroke and that she passed out. He takes her to some sort of warehouse where they can recover. Meanwhile, we find out that an epidemic called Saudad has ravaged the human population. At the same time (possibly because of this) technology seems to be fully automated to the point that humans aren’t really needed and are kind of irrelevant. There are a number of conspiracies which we see through a YouTube channel called TruthRage, that some automatons are amongst us and that they infiltrate into top positions in society, and we see various other conspiracies throughout the film from this channel. It seems like they are suggesting that humans are being controlled by these beings and we are told “they’re just following their instincts”.

Rudolph quickly inserts himself into normal society and gets himself a job in technology for Intuflex who seem to do some work relating to technology and intuition (he is told “your intuition will shape the future”) although it’s unclear exactly what this company does. When not at work, he observes human life. He also obsesses over trying to communicate with his home planet attempting to create communications devices, whilst his mother seems to be dying. To further study humans, he calls himself a photographer and goes to various parties with artists (which the conspiracists call ‘The Hoard’, a group who have migrated to the suburbs after the epidemic) to learn more about people, sharing a psychedelic machine with them that seems to bends their minds and possibly gather information about them. Rudolph ends up being told by a fellow alien that the home-planet have forgotten them and in order to be free, he will need to let go of the past.

Really unusual movie. A lot of it was shot in this handheld home camcorder style, which made it feel like Rudolph was genuinely taking a report of humans back to his planet. In the Q&A, the director said that much of the scenes where Rudolph is at the party doing this, he was instructed to interact with people who were just being themselves, not acting. That natural side really comes through, I thought.

Also I enjoyed that the film was ambiguous. It could have simultaneously been pitched as a story that Rudolph was not an alien, that in fact he was sinking into madness, because it was quite unclear for a long time if his so-called mother was an alien or if she was dead and he had killed her. Occasionally she would make noises but as a viewer, I supposed that those noises could well have been a ‘death rattle’ which are the sounds a dead body makes when certain gases are expelling from the body as it decomposes (I saw that once in a TV show). So I spent much of the film questioning who Rudolph really was and if he was being sincere. To be honest, seeing the mother go through various stages of decomposing made me feel quite uncomfortable, like it was too real. Particularly as for most of the film I felt like she had been murdered. I guess I wasn’t really anticipating seeing that from the synopsis, this implied violence towards a woman. I think if I had been mentally prepared for seeing that, maybe it would not have made me feel so uneasy. It’s funny, because I watch a lot of true crime, but I’ve never seen a body as graphically decomposing as in this film, and it really bothered me.

All in all, very interesting dark film. Well acted. Really great trippy visual effects, particularly in the scenes where Rudolph is showing people his mind-altering machine. I can see the influences in there by The Man Who Fell To Earth. I thought there was quite a lot going on, between the epidemic and conspiracies and this so-called alien, but it didn’t feel like it was cramped with too many complicated storylines. Great ending. I enjoyed it. Check it out.

You can watch this film here. You will need to buy a film or festival pass to watch it though.

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