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John’s Horror Corner: The Beach House (2019), a taste of cosmic horror and oceanside wildlife.

January 19, 2021

MY CALL: Among cosmic horror films, this movie does a lot with a little. The budget cannot carry the effects we’d “like” to see, but I enjoyed what I watched anyway. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Beach House: Hard to say… I’m reminded of Growth (2010), Sea Fever (2019), The Color Out of Space (2019), Annihilation (2018), The Mist (2007) and even Honeymoon (2014), all for very different reasons. But none of these movies are actually “similar” to The Beach House.

This was low in my queue until I listened to the largely spoiler-free pulp review in Beyond the Void Podcast’s episode 215: Top 30 Horror Movies of 2020.

This is the story of a couple, a vacation, and a sort of journey. Emily (Liana Liberato; Haunt) is brought to Randall’s (Noah Le Gros; Depraved) family beach house for what seems to be an attempt to privately mend and salvage their relationship. As we come to understand their common dynamic, their rather normal issues of misunderstanding and their imbalances, an atmosphere of calm apprehension is cast.

Much to their surprise, another very hospitable couple happen to already be staying in the house. Old friends of Randall’s father, Mitch (Jake Weber; Dawn of the Dead, The Haunting of Molly Hartley, The Cell) and Jane (Maryann Nagel) couldn’t be nicer company. That is, until an evening of friendly indulgence leads them to something otherworldly.

Things get weird. Events with jellyfish, slimy goo and subdermal worm infections transpire. The worm infection is gross, invasive and uncomfortable. And the oddities spiral deeper.

I feel like a lot was done with a limited budget—a lot. It’s like Brian Yuzna (Society, Bride of Re-Animator, Beyond Re-Animator, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead) was forced to make a Lovecraftian movie using no more money for special effects than the change under his couch cushions. Thankfully the characters and writing were so good, I hardly noticed the few special effects. Tactfully and purposefully, the weird unnerving tension serves viewers well. Some other gross effects ensue, but again, it’s not an effects-driven film.

I finished glad that I watched it. But I wouldn’t recommend it for reasons of scariness or gore or effects, or even the story. This gets recommended because the characters were good and the tension was enough that I didn’t notice the low number of effects. The ending is neither awesome nor bad, but the ending isn’t really an ending to what’s going on. It’s just the ending to these couples’ weekend. Writer and director Jeffrey A. Brown ushers in his first feature film and does a fine job. I’d be very excited to see his next foray into horror or science fiction.

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