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‘Our House’ (Fantasia 2018 review)

Produced by Wookey Karen, Kim Lee,
Katz Martin, Israel Ulf

Written by Parker Nathan
Directed by Anthony Scott Burns
Starring Kate Moyer, Nicola Peltz,
Percy Hynes White, Thomas Mann

Fantasia 2018

 

Ethan (Thomas Mann) is a college student who is intent (along with some colleagues, one of whom is his girlfriend) on successfully inventing a wireless electric conductor.

While at the family home on a break from college, Ethan’s mom and dad are looking forward to spending time with him and his younger siblings, Matt and Becca.

To his father’s disappointment (and reluctant acceptance), Ethan insists on experimenting on the invention, as the circumstances are ideal for that night.

After another near-miss – and a chase off campus after the experiment knocks out the power – Ethan discovers that his parents have been killed in a car accident.

Devastated, he must quickly take responsibility for his younger brother and sister. He leaves his girlfriend and moves back into the family home and does his best to be the loving brother/surrogate parent, but is trying to work through his grief and guilt, all the while longing to get back to work on the project.

He eventually begins experimenting anew, but is taken aback when he overhears little Becca talking to her dead mother, insisting Mom is actually talking back.

Soon, Ethan comes to suspect that his invention is creating an electrical field that allows the dead to break through to our world.

Our House is based on a 2010 film, Ghost From The Machine, a film I haven’t seen. The film is a compelling drama about a family dealing with profound grief, that contains horror elements. There are some flat-out horror scenes and tropes throughout – especially in the home stretch – but I’d hesitate to label the film as horror.

Interestingly, the “what-would-you-do?” thematic questions posed by the film, as in how far would you go to speak with a deceased loved one, as well as would you want to contact them even if they’ve changed for the worse (á la “Monkey’s Paw” or Pet Semetary) are handled more effectively in a parallel subplot that comes to the fore in the third act.

What holds the central plot together is the rapport between the three siblings. The writing, direction and performances mesh quite well, creating an extremely believable and appealing dynamic between the three that recalls the three siblings in E.T. It’s not in the same league, but these roles feel lived-in and realistic, with an adorable Kate Moyer as Becca a standout.

Our House has been compared to The Babadook, Hereditary and A Quiet Place as another horror film laced with family trauma.

I suppose it’s a fair assessment, though for me, the scares took a back seat to an involving family drama, and as such I found Our House satisfying.

 

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