There’s Someone Inside Your House Review: Missed potential makes for a mixed viewing
Honestly, when I was first jumping into Netflix’s new horror film, There’s Someone Inside Your House, I was expecting your run of the mill slasher. However, this film’s behind the scenes talent has a strong pedigree. Not only is this produced by Shawn Levy, producer of Love and Monsters and director of Free Guy, and James Wan, director of The Conjuring and Saw, but it’s also helmed by Creep director Patrick Brice. Once I saw that Atomic Monster logo come at the front of the film, I knew I was in for a treat and There’s Someone Inside Your House can deliver some slasher goodness along with some interesting story potential.
The film, based on Stephanie Perkins’ 2017 novel of the same name, follows a group of Nebraska teens as their high school becomes terrorized by a masked serial killer who exposes damaging secrets just before killing their victims. When it comes to the film’s central killer, the concept and Brice’s direction are an excellent match. The idea of the killer brandishing a mask of their distinct victim’s face is very unique and visually creepy when you see it in action. Brice’s direction is very suspenseful with how the killer’s presence is built up through the reveals of someone’s buried secrets that adds some good paranoia to the atmosphere.
Brice lets these moments between the killer and their victims boil with tension really well and captures the killer’s stalking and relentlessness in an effect way. Although there might not be a high body count, Brice makes these kills stick with impact of brutality and craziness they have. There’s Someone Inside Your House can feel more like a teen gossip show than a horror movie at times because of how comparably less we see the killer, but the kills definitely remind you that this is a slasher and that this killer is no joke. Also, just because this film’s killer doesn’t come out super often, doesn’t mean that their presence isn’t felt within the characters wrestling with their secrets.
Like I said, There’s Someone Inside Your House isn’t so much of a typical teen slasher as it really delves into the impact of secrets coming out and how the secrets of central protagonist Makani (Sydney Park) begin to eat at her. Once the first victim has their secrets let out, it’s interesting to see how this changes people’s mindsets and causes people to question one another. It’s no surprise that high school seniors would have secrets like brutal hazing rituals or maybe a drug problem, but the discovery of these secrets and some face-value impressions causes some blame to be thrown around. It’s interesting how loner Ollie (Theodore Pellerin) immediately gets suspected of being the murderer based on his traumatic past and how Makani’s friend Zach (Dale Whibley) gets heat for his father’s actions.
It’s even interesting to see Makani and her friend group dissect those around them and figure out why or if they are the killer. Makani’s internal struggles with her secret is nicely built and has some shocking revelations. Park puts in a really strong lead performances that balances the nice, almost perfect life Makani leads as she attempts to bury her burning, darker past. Her story is definitely one of the more compelling aspects of the film as it’s has good breadcrumbs throughout and plays an interesting role in her secret relationship with Ollie. Honestly, everyone in the cast gives very charming and engaging performances and its definitely what hooks you at the start. However, the story is missing the depth it needs to make all its characters more complex and bring out deeper aspects of its story.
Outside of Makani, none of the other characters really make a strong impression and only feel like they have moments for story purposes. Alex (Asjha Cooper) really only adds some humor that lands because Cooper gives such a great performance and plays a role in a “love secret” with another friend Rodrigo (Diego Josef) simply for there to be a tragic turn at the end of the second act. Other characters like Caleb (Burkely Duffield) and Darby (Jesse LaTourette) are given interesting motivations and time in their introductions that connected to the first two students killed, but pretty much fade into the background. It’s even more of a shame considering the film makes it a big deal about Caleb being gay and Darby being transgender but does nothing with it, so it basically just uses LGBT representation for plot purposes. A lot of the tensions that are built up don’t even play out and there are characters mentioned, like Ollie’s brother, that are simply there to be a part of the film’s guessing game story that’s sorely lacking.
There are a few moments where the idea of secrets plays an interesting role in character interactions, like a “secret party” and Makani talking about her past, but most of it is just a generic blame game of whodunnit. There’s such a big opportunity missed to add a lot of depth to these characters in having who they are questioned and testing bonds as secrets come out. Honestly, There’s Someone Inside Your House would’ve been far better as a tv series since it would’ve allowed more time for these ideas to be explored. Maybe it also would’ve given more to who’s behind the mask because the reveal is incredibly underwhelming. The motivations and story behind the killer is vastly unsatisfying since it basically comes out of nowhere in a bad way and feels like one of the big reasons why the blame game played throughout is so tiring.
As much as There’s Someone Inside Your House tries to deviate itself from being a generic slasher through strong direction, concepts, and performances, its weak themes and story choices steer it right back into that territory. It’s certainly not a bad watch, but one that misses out on a lot of potential to be something more.