After the success of Netflix’ Fear Street series, and with both Halloween Kills and Scream 5 on the horizon, we are once more in the throes of a slasher revival. As with many types of horror, the popularity of the sub-genre tends to come in cycles and it looks like we’ll be seeing a few more over the next few years. The latest to enter this arena is There’s Someone Inside Your House, which, having debuted at Fantastic Fest, will arrive on Netflix next month. It’s directed by Patrick Brice, of Creep and Creep 2 fame, is based on a novel of the same name written by Stephanie Perkins, and tells of a killer picking off people with dark secrets.
Most of There’s Someone Inside Your House plays as a modern mixture of Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Cherry Falls, making it a real throwback to the last heyday of the slasher (the late nineties / early noughties) rather than the original wave. It isn’t a carbon copy of either of these films, but certainly lifts a lot of elements from them. There’s the big dramatic opening murder (Scream), the ambiguity about the innocence of those close to our heroine (all of the above), and a big high school bash to try and stop the killer by having attendees spill they darkest secrets (a rift on the de-virgin party seen in Cherry Falls). Borrowing these moments ties the film to the history of the sub-genre, but Brice has plenty of his own ideas to excite his audience members.
Slashers are synonymous with masked killers, the masks themselves often going on to be iconic in their own right. You only have to see an image of the masks of Ghostface, Michael Myers, and Jason Voorhees, to know the franchise, the story here though calls for something different. Instead of the killer wearing the same facial attire for each and every munrder, here they wear a mask of the victim’s own face. It’s an interesting idea, one that obviously works well with the idea of it being the target’s past that has placed them into the danger zone. In an attempt to survive, they have to literally take down themselves, it might not be as marketable as your other slasher killers, but will certainly stick in the memory.
There’s Someone Inside Your House has an elaborate opening sequence that follows the demise of a high-school football player. This player wakes up to find someone has been in his house, covering it with images linked to a violent moment from their past. The scene works as a great example of cat and mouse interaction on screen, our killer always being one step ahead of their prey. Interestingly our victim is presented with several opportunities to get themselves out of harm’s way, but fails to accept any of them. This opening sequence captures your attention instantly, but after such strong beginnings, There’s Someone Inside Your House’s pacing quickly falls off of a cliff.
In the aftermath of the big death we meet Makani (Sydney Park) a young girl who has been sent to live with her grandmother after a past indiscrecion. Along with Makani we meet her group of close friends, as well as those on the periphery, and those familiar with the conventions of the slasher will know that now is the time to start guessing our killer. From here on, Brice shifts focus from kills to drama as the story morphs into what feels like a condensed version of a season of 13 Reasons Why. It has a lot of teen angst, too much for older slasher fans to comfortably enjoy, but gives plenty of food for thought to the teenage target demographic. Whilst some will lament that slashers aren’t as fun as they used to be, There’s Someone Inside Your House does retain a semblance of enjoyment factor, but also uses its time to generate some interesting discourse around identity and our own morality.
As great as it is for a slasher aimed at teens to have a brain and a message, the lack of real threat is a massive letdown. With so much time focused on Makani and her demons, the killer aspect almost feels like a forgotten element. Rather than the impending sense of doom being front and centre, here it’s kept in the background; it feels like the film’s own dirty little secret. The threat of the killer is pushed so far back that, in some moments, you easily forget that this is a key component of the movie.
After the initial opening scene, There’s Someone Inside Your House struggles to keep the energy levels pumping. Director Patrick Brice has clearly used this film to offer a counter slasher to what older audiences are used to, zeroing in on its younger target market. But the shift from the thrills of the kills throws the piece out of balance and muddies what could have been a great modern horror.
There’s Somebody Inside Your House is available to watch on Netflix now.
This review first appeared on THN.