05th Feb2020

‘Anyone Home?’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Monique Gabriela Curnen, Kathy Baker, Luke Ganalon, Jon Jon Briones, Keram Malicki-Sánchez, Maree Cheatham, Jasper Cole, Victoria Cruz, Jill Jordan, Cici Lau | Written by Patrick Cunningham, William Day Frank | Directed by Patrick Cunningham

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Genre movies based in the home usually take one of a few routes. They can be a haunted house tale, they can be a home invasion movie or they can be something else. Anyone Home? sits nicely in that ‘something else’ category.

It centres on a single mum, Camila (Monique Gabriela Curnen), who is struggling financially and mentally while bringing up her son. She thinks her luck has changed though when she gets a job house-sitting a model home. All she has to do is decorate the house to look good for when would be buyers look round. But it doesn’t take too long for even that to be too much for her.

Anyone Home? doesn’t sound like your typical horror movie and in truth, it’s not but it does build to a creepiness I did not expect. At first, you wouldn’t call it ‘scary’. The horror of it is how much this woman is struggling with life and how you see her mind just fall apart. She, very quickly, becomes more and more insane; and you feel like she kind of knows what is happening to her but just goes along with it.

It’s a near perfect performance from Curnen in the role. She’s an experienced actress, previously starring in The Dark Knight, The Following, Contagion and much more, and she proves a great casting choice for the lead. You completely believe her when the character goes crazy… she plays it so well. And you can see the point at which she completely loses it,when she starts caring about her child less and less. Anyone Home? is pretty much a one woman show but Curnen is good enough to hold it altogether.

Despite like I said earlier, this not being your normal genre movie it does feature plenty of horrific moments. Much of it is psychological fear and some brilliantly built tension (although we even get a masked killer by the end of the movie). There’s a scene with a hammer that build and builds until you’ll be screaming at the screen! The low budget doesn’t effect things either with first time director Patrick Cunningham (who also co-wrote the movie) using the less is more approach expertly. There are deaths, and there is a little blood but we simply don’t need to see lots of gore to understand the horrifying nature of what is going on.

There’s some nice cinematography and use of barren land around these new build houses that, alongside the score, creates an unsettling atmosphere throughout. You always feel a little on edge while watching Anyone Home? Interestingly there’s a dark comedy to almost every part of the film, small moments here and there that get a quick smile out of the viewer. Whether it’s one-liners, quirky characters or just that uneasy smile when something is so wrong and ridiculous that you can’t help yourself.

Patrick Cunningham will definitely be someone to watch in the future, this is a unique type of movie that tackles mental illness, the pressure of bringing up a child and owning your own house and creates an unnerving horror film from it. It’s a highly impressive debut.

**** 4/5

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