Stars: Ashley Mary Nunes, Jessica Cameron, Jennifer Wenger, Melynda Kiring, Natalie Montera, Lito Velasco, Jason Ray Schumacher, Johanna Rae, Matt Poeschl, Cathy Garrett, Kelsey Carlstedt, Danica Riner | Written and Directed by Todd Nunes
Fifteen years ago, a peaceful Christmas neighborhood was engulfed by fear when five-year-old Jamie Garrett was mysteriously taken from her bedroom never to be seen again. Now on Christmas break, Rachel Kimmel comes home from college to find her neighborhood struck again by a reign of terror. A violent killer is hiding behind a grisly Santa mask, leaving a bloody trail of slaughtered women and castrated men to the steps of the Garrett house. Rachel finds herself in a horrifying nightmare as she discovers the twisted secret behind the mask.
Maybe it was all the pre-release internet hype (which we were a part of), or maybe it’s because being a sucker for seasonal slashers I had high hopes for the film but I was, at first, disappointed by All Through the House… Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad film by any stretch of the [horror] imagination – I’ve seen a lot (a LOT) worse, especially when it comes to horror films set around Christmas – but there was just something that felt “off” about Todd Nunes’ killer-Santa flick. But fair play to Nunes, this is one of those films that reels you in and has you hooked come the final credits.
For those looking for a movie filled with blood-soaked kills, All Through the House fits that bill, it is packed and stacked with gore, starting off with a death in a shower and not letting up. And it’s safe to say I absolutely LOVED the gore! The effects – which will be particularly painful for the male audience watching this flick – leave nothing to the imagination. Every stab, every cut, every chop is shown is ultra-bloody detail, making this a gore-hounds dream (yes, given the effects work, this is the kind of film that would have featured heavily in Fangoria had it been released in the 80s).
Being 80s-like is also part of the films problem: it left me wondering who All Through the House is aimed at. On the one hand this looks like it has been made by and for slasher movie fans – more importantly those who love the slashers of the 80s – there are a LOT of kills that reference slasher movies of the past, the most obvious being Friday the 13th Part 3, The Prowler, The Burning even Maniac and Tourist Trap! Hell, there are even some easter eggs strewn throughout the film (anyone else notice the book one of the killers victims was reading had the old Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker VHS artwork on the front?) that throwback to other horror films. But on the other hand all the references and easter eggs just harken back to films that are much better examples of the genre. Only someone who HADN’T seen any of the “classics” of the genre would see this as a fresh and exciting tale of terror. Which is why I’m in a quandry – is this merely a “spot the reference” flick made for slasher fans, or was Nunes trying to make something original? A film to be added to the pantheon of great seasonal slashers?
There’s also a matter of the films cast. Whilst I know its hard to find experienced actresses, and god forbid anyone saying slasher films of the 80s had fantastic casts, but All Through the House is hampered by a cast that don’t convince. Everyone either plays it too camp or doesn’t commit to the story. All of course except for the psycho under the Santa suit, whose committment to being the sleaziest, perviest psycho-killer is one of the highlights of the movie. For despite the familarity of proceedings, the “reveal” and the reasoning behind the who, what, why etc. is where this films true originality (and insanity) lies! That ending, the entire final quarter, goes a LONG way to redeeming everything that has come before… A very long way.
The new UK DVD from 101 Films is, sadly, sans any extra features – which is a shame as Nunes and co. have been putting in one hell of an effort online to promote the film and some of this material could have been transferred to the DVD to make this a much better finished product.
A case of “come for the gore, stay for the gore”, All Through the House is out now.