25th Jul2015

‘Girlhouse’ DVD Review

by Stuart Wright

Stars: Ali Cobrin, Adam DiMarco, Slaine, Alyson Bath, Elysia Rotaru, Alice Hunter, Chasty Ballesteros, Nicole Arianna Fox, Zuleyka Silver, Wesley MacInnes, Erin Agostino | Written by Nick Gordon | Directed by Jon Knautz, Trevor Matthews


Girlhouse is three parts slasher and one part home invasion movie; and introduces us to a new horror anti-hero ‘Loverboy’. It’s the directorial debut of Trevor Matthews and a feature length script first for writer Nick Gordon. University student Kylie Atkins (played by Rose Byrne’s younger look-a-like Ali Corbin) and her financial woes lead her to taking a job working in the ‘Girlhouse’. A webcam porno website/location crossed with Big Brother’s invasive camera’s in every room – so the punters can get to know the girls for who they are and, you know, fall in love with them. Naturally, her college friend is skeptical but Kylie tells her: “I’m doing this so I don’t have to quit school… I’ve thought this through, honestly. I really don’t see there being a problem.”

Escorted from campus in a limousine to the hidden, unknown, secure location by the suave, clean cut Gary Preston – owner of the Girlhouse business – we learn how there’s nothing sleazy or exploitative about accepting a place in his webcam world. She only has to do what she’s comfortable doing. Upon arrival we fast track through other eye candy working there:

  • Devon is the beautiful blonde mean girl.
  • Kat is the nice, black one… and a lesbian as well for extra titillation points.
  • Mia is the quiet lesbian partner of Kat.
  • Janet is the fiery Asian – she actually has a framed Bruce Lee poster on the wall of her room.
  • And finally Heather is the loudmouthed, buxom, no holds barred, kinky sex machine.

The study / webcam life balance for Kylie is light of touch. This isn’t about her being pushed out of her comfort zone or being exploited, the story is really about one key person and his motivations – Loverboy

Loverboy is the handle of one of the 1000s of viewers who interact with the girls. At their end he’s just typed words they speak to and patronize. At his end of the action he’s a bitter and twisted man. Slumped into a chair he’s  far from the handsome compliments give him. He’s a bulky, skinheaded computer tech loner in a boiler suit played with perpetual menace by Slaine (The Town, Gone Baby Gone and Killing Them Softly). Humiliated as a youngster he never did get over nor grow out of feeling a deep sense of low self-worth.

Loverboy’s tipping point is carefully built before the killing starts. We get to see his depressingly sad character transform into the slasher anti-hero this sub-genre’s fans demand. Some may find this takes too long, but I guess the film makers figured the tits’n’ass segments will keep the – mostly male – audience occupied and entertained before the blood starts to be spilled.

The film delivers Hooters type sex action. The violence maybe 18, but Girlhouse is the 12A porn-lite end of the modern sex industry – girls are ensconced at one side of the ethernet cables and the johns at the other. We get a peak into customers beyond Loverboy via a few stock characters: Chinese laundry boss shutting his office door to knock one out, the office drone getting some extra-curricular kicks off the companies broadband and the innocent teenager with the blissfully unaware mom calling him for dinner. And when the killing starts we return to some of these and see them reminded that these girls they’re beating off to are more than just ciphers on the screen – they’re human beings. Nevertheless their reaction is to switch off rather than raise an alarm. Judging by the opening montage there’s a much more hardhitting film about the online consumption pornography trying to get out Girlhouse. Topped off nicely by the self-confessed porn-addict/serial-killer Ted Bundy quote that precedes the fade in: “I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence. Everyone of them was deeply involved with pornography…” It’d be too simplistic to take Bundy’s word for it, because by this time he was saying anything that might give the state a reason not to execute him.

Another of these external viewers is porn enthusiast and student Alex. He introduces our final character of note when he calls his roommate – Ben – in to check out the new girl in Girlhouse – Kylie. He recognizes her. She’s his unrequited love from kindergarten. He visits her university and ‘accidentally’ bumps into her. They strike up a relationship – giving the plot someone to care about her on the outside watching via the cameras of Girlhouse when killing starts. It’s an interesting experience when you as the viewer straddle Kylie’s realization there’s a killer coming to get her and Alex’s reaction from his terminal … Both seemingly helpless.

Kills are interesting and Girlhouse rises to the challenge of finding an original way for a slasher villain to kill someone – I’ll call that the dildo death sequence. The penultimate kill is beautifully staged and suspenseful. Among the cartoon murders are some serious thoughts by the filmmakers. In particular is Devon’s slow demise from beauty queen to ugly at the hands of Loverboy. She pleads with Kylie to kill her: “I can’t live looking like this.” Her death is the most tragic and meaningfu of them all.

Overall, Girlhouse is a good slasher film. Corbin develops the Kylie character well as she ascends from naïve college kid to dead eyed, kickass bitch. Just a shame some of the more serious points about online porn that could have been made are left lingering for someone else to tie up in another film.

Girlhouse is out now on DVD from Signature Entertainment.


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