...Sorry, give me a moment.
I'm attempting to collect the sundry pieces of my mind. After Director Arthur Luhn blew it to bloody smithereens there seems to be bits everywhere. And grey matter can really stain the walls if you let it sit too long.
DRINK OF CHOICE (21+)
First off, I seriously recommend that any drinking you do DURING the film be minimal, as you'll need your wits, but you should absolutely have something stiff ready for the credits. Something hardy, deep and oaky, slightly mysterious on the palate...something to contemplate the events that just unfolded. Give 'The New Black' a try - the combo of Absinthe and Rye should help you glue the bits of brain goo back together.
Kansas city girl Amy (Jessica Sonneborn) moves into a brand spanking new apartment, eagerly rented to her by Tom (Ethan Embry), ready to start her life over in a quiet and quaint little town. New job, new friends and new neighbors.
Unfortunately, almost as soon as she moves in, tragedy strikes in the form of a hit and run. When no one seems to be especially bothered, or answer any questions, Amy begins to suspect that all is not as it seems in this quiet little town on this quiet street.
Amy decides to investigate further, her focus now drawn to this House Across the Street, and starts asking a few too many questions, activity that inevitably draws the attention of the local police force. Head cop Officer Peterson (Eric Roberts... OMG) takes special interest in Amy, as does Good Cop Kyle (Josh Hammond).
When Amy attempts to get to the bottom of the situation involving the House Across the Street she meets resistance on all fronts in this town where 'everyone's on the same frequency'. We also learn a little more about Amy when she runs out of her anti-psychotics, begging the question 'is this all in her head'? And it becomes harder and harder to tell.
With Good Cop Kyle's help Amy discovers some very interesting information, and the linchpin holding the town together.
Amazing. Jessica Sonneborn as Amy is absolutely captivating, Eric Roberts is wonderfully creepy and Josh Hammond nails the role of Good Guy Cop.
Its really more apt to use the word 'fear' here, but I think that phrase is taken... The House Across the Street is a thriller, through and through. While there's nothing that'll make you jump out of your seat, the pervading sense of unease is penetrating.
While the arguably weakest point of this movie is the sometimes clunky script, the STORY itself is as twisty as Robert Downey Jr's road to fame. For the last ten years whenever a film had a twist ending some asshat reviewer would inevitably drop an M. Night Shyalaman reference somewhere - but I think we have a new gold standard. Arthur Luhn's The House Across the Street hits harder in the last 10 minutes than the last few of M Night's movies put together.
I was confused at first. Very often when someone slaps the label 'Thriller' on a film its because they didn't have the sack to go full force horror, or think that because they've read enough John Grisham novels in airport lounges they know how to keep an audience hanging on every moment. And, usually, they fall face first. Its spectacularly difficult to keep the average viewer's interest (especially mine, I'll admit it) all the way up until the conclusion - that's 3 acts and roughly 90 minutes of tension - no small feat.
And that is essentially what you'll find in The House Across the Street. I say essentially because there are moments of lassitude where the momentum ebbs, or the writing is a bit awkward and pulls you out, but it is otherwise a fully immersive experience, and by the final act you'll be unable to look away or even exactly understand what's going on until the end.
Its a remarkable combination, I think, that holds the viewer. Thoughtful shots, a bleak and hopeless mood, bizarre characters and a compelling lead (Jessica Sonneborn as Amy) together build a sense of unease, that nothing is OK, that this thin veneer of happiness in an idyllic and quiet neighborhood is hiding something horrifying, slick and slimy.
Ugh. Still makes my skin crawl a bit. Makes you look twice at that neighbor that always waves when he's throwing out the trash, or offers to mow your lawn - makes you second guess those split second appraisals we make of others. What is it that Mom always used to say?
"Don't judge a book by its cover." The House Across the Street brings new light to that sentiment, and breath to the idea that 'nothing is ever as it seems'. Do you really know whats going on around you? What happens behind closed doors? Do you even dare give life to the possible horror that other people are capable of?
TL;DR 8/10 The House Across the Street taps directly into our primordial hive mind and distills the primitive juices of terror and tension from our collective lizard brain, leaving the viewer agape, jaw planted thoroughly on the floor.
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