05th Aug2021

‘Hostage House’ Review (Netflix)

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jennifer Taylor, Julia Terranova, Emily Sweet, Justin C. Schilling, Patrick Cronen, Richard Neil, Kamen Casey | Written by Daniel West | Directed by David Benullo

Hostage House sees an ambitious realtor, who’s showing a palatial-looking home in her neighbourhood, get caught up, along with her daughter, in a hostage situation during an open house…

Who doesn’t love a good Die Hard-esque home invasion movie? Homeowners versus thieves in a battle of wits… Or maybe an adult version of Home Alone, with traps taking out crooks? Yeah Hostage House is neither of those things; no matter how much I wanted it to be. I does feature its protagonists eventually taking on the thieves but the bulk of the film plays more on the tension between captives and captors – only finally moving into anything resembling your typical home invasion movie in the final third of the film.

Which is odd considering director David Benullo previously directed the quasi-religious horror Hallowed Ground. You’d assume that Benullo might bring some of that horror experience to this film – perhaps make it more like 2016’s Intruders which was a more terrifying take on the genre. But no. this one goes down the “Lifetime/Hallmark” movie route, playing more for the melodrama than anything else. Which kind of fits into Netflix’s recent spate of terrible cheesy movies that seemingly are satires of said TV movies – films like Secret Obsession and Dangerous Lies.

Which ties more into the work of writer Daniel West rather than the directors previous work. West has peened films such as Manny Dearest, Psycho Wedding Crasher, Killer Single Dad and Am I a Serial Kiler… which is my way of saying you can probably tell what you’re in for with Hostage House just on those titles alone! Whatever happened to good TV movie thrillers? When did parody and satire become the norm?

Remarkably, Hostage House aims its target at the great American 1%; the rich folk who live in big houses; the Ivy League university types who have money. And our villains? They’re the poor 99%, the folks who have no money but want it – taking it anyway they can. In this case robbing large homes and/or blackmailing homeowners. It’s a plot we’ve seen a million times before: “bad guy wants money and tries to take it”, adding a socio-political statement on the rich getting rich and the poor getting poorer does nothing to change anything – especially when the film descends into the screaming match over money towards the end of the film. It’s almost as if the filmmakers wanted to “elevate” this particular TV-movie tale into something more, so added a diatribe about rich folk in hopes of giving this film substance it so desperately needs.

But Hostage House doesn’t have any substance, its very much a “turn off your brain” type of film that spoon feeds the audience all they need to know without every having to think, because if you did think you’d question why the hell most of what’s happening is taking place and how people can be so dumb!

Hostage House is available to watch on Netflix in the US, the UK, Australia and South Africa now.

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