House Hunting (Eric Hurt, 2013)
It’s the very end of March, and I am finally getting round to seeing the first movie to cross in front of my eyes that was actually released in 2013. And I have to admit, since the big draw in the promo materials seemed to be the presence of Marc “Beastmaster” Singer, I can’t say I was expecting a lot. But the movie, which shares a number of aspects with a bunch of other flicks I’ve seen over the past decade or so and handles them with, if not originality, at least freshness and enthusiasm, was a good deal more fun than I expected it to be.
…and here it is in early December and I am finally getting around to finishing this review. (Which you probably won’t see until well into 2014. I’m a little behind.) Which says nothing at all about the quality of the movie; it’s basement-budget, and you’ve certainly seen it before (personally, I most recently saw a lot of these plot twists in the underrated YellowBrickRoad), but it’s got a low-rent cleverness and a general air of affability about it that I found engaging. The basic idea: two families, both in the market for a new place, find themselves coming to the same house at the same time for a self-guided tour (with those silly tape-recorded audio portions you find in low-rent museums and such). There’s the Hays family, headed up by dad Charlie (Singer), and the Thomsons, headed up by dad Don (Cobra‘s Art LaFleur). Once they enter the house, the discover that every time they try to leave the property, they wind up back at the house, the playthings of the spectre of the house’s former owner. And the price he lays upon them for leaving is a high one indeed.
There is, of course, a method to the madness, and the families have to try and figure out why they’re stuck here before the house offs them all (or they get around to killing one another as tensions flare; both fathers, especially, come to believe that they’re innocent victims, while the other family is to blame for getting them involved in this mess), so there’s some semblance of a plot, and the characters, while not anything approaching three-dimensional, are at least well-drawn enough that the viewer doesn’t feel stupid investing a touch of emotion into caring at least a little what happens to some of the trapped folks. It’s not a bad little movie, well-paced, fun, and not nearly as stupid as it could, and probably should, have been; you’re not going to come out of this thinking it’s a classic, but you probably won’t feel like you’ve wasted your time, either. ** ½
Trailer. (If you get the “watch the movie!” link, it’s dead.)