06th Jul2020

‘The Beach House’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, Jake Weber, Maryann Nagel, Michael Brumfield, Matt Maisto, Steven Corkin, Dan Zakarija, Veronica Fellman | Written and Directed by Jeffrey A. Brown

Not the most horrific of horror movie titles but The Beach House features two college sweethearts on a getaway to the sea and the aforementioned beach house. Shortly after their arrival they come across some unexpected guests and an environment that doesn’t seem to want them their.

The Beach House somehow manages to feel very familiar, even to the pint that if features quite a few horror clichés, but still highly original too. It ‘borrows’ ideas from some horror and sci-fi classics but brings plenty of its own aswell, which many of the best movies do.

It’s a classic slow-burn style with the first half of the film just introducing its characters (only four ‘proper’ in total) and then setting up the situation they find themselves in. But you always, nearly from the first minute, feel like something isn’t quite right. It has that kind of paranoia where you never really trust any of the characters. You either think they aren’t who they say they are or that they have some dark side to them that we haven’t seen yet. But in actuality everyone might be ‘normal’ and the horror that ensures isn’t to do with their personalities.

With such a small cast, it’s key that they were chose right and the filmmakers have done a good job here. Liana Liberato and Noah Le Gros play the college sweethearts Emily and Randall. Believable as a couple with good chemistry but also put in some really subtle moments which keep putting questions into the viewers minds. The odd look or reaction keeps you wondering about their history and sometimes these things aren’t fully explained but you don’t feel let down by this. I was happy to fill in the blanks myself. Looking like new versions of Megan Fox and Ryan Phillipe, both actors are really good.

While we’re mentioning lookalikes the two guests are played by Jake Weber (Dawn of the Dead 2004) and Maryanne Nagel, who if you squint could pass for Tim Roth and Lin Shaye. Once again though both are enjoyable in roles where they have to have this kind of creepy awkwardness. Much of the film has that awkwardness but it works well.

Another highlight of The Beach House are the make-up effects. The foot injury scenes, which are reminiscent of Alien and The Thing, will make even hardened horror squirm and look away. They’re gross and gory but you can’t help to keep looking back at it in horror. There’s plenty of other good effects too, when the characters are undergoing a sort of transformation of sorts, they look ill. Really ill. Pale and green skin, inhuman-like eyes – you can feel the pain they are in.

The Beach House keeps the viewer asking questions. You’re never quite sure where it’s going and I’m quite pleased that it doesn’t actually give all its answers. It will take more viewings and more changing of the mind to decide what exactly happens.

When you show your influences on your sleeve quite as blatantly as The Beach House does, you better make sure your film is good. There’s nods to The Thing, Alien, The Fog, James Herbert’s Ghosts of Sleath and even David Cronenberg but it never feels like a copycat. Instead feeling like a fresh new take on sci-fi horror that is as engaging as it is scary.

**** 4/5

The Beach House will be available on Shudder from July 9th.


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