Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Shudder: The Beach House

This film could spur sales of air purifiers, but it certainly does not promote recreational pot use. Careful what you put in your body, because it just might stay in there. It is not immediately clear what those air particulates are, but they look ominously foreboding in Jeffrey A. Brown’s The Beach House, which premieres tomorrow on Shudder.

The Beach House starts slow, but finishes strong. At first, the film seems to be an exercise in social awkwardness, when Randall takes his girlfriend Emily to his father’s vacation home on the exact same weekend Mitch and Jane Turner had arranged to borrow it. The older couple tries to be gracious, but there is tension, because the Mrs. Turner is clearly ailing. Presumably, this will be their last visit to the beachfront property. However, everyone seems to relax when Randall breaks out the edibles (over Emily’s objections), at least for a short spell. Still, the heaviness of the dust or pollen in the air remains an unmistakable ill portent.

It turns out, Brown is revisiting one of the classic horror-sf sub-genres, but it would not be sporting to say which one. One the other hand, it is probably fair to say it will involve a good deal of body horror. Frankly, there are times when Owen Levelle’s hazy and moody cinematography brings to mind Dean Cundey’s lensing of classic early John Carpenter films, like Halloween and The Fog, which is very high praise.

Liana Liberato (atoning for Trespass) is really very good playing Emily in various stages of relationship impatience, stoned but not blissed-out, hung-over, and completely terrified. She covers a greater emotional spectrum, but both she and Noah Le Gros totally sell the bodily horrors. Veteran character actor Jake Weber (from Medium and American Gothic) also helps make the first act feel slightly off-kilter.

When things take a perilous turn for our young couple, Beach House locks in and grabs on tight to viewers. There are sequences worthy of the classic films in the genre (not that we are saying what that is). It is the kind of film the audience needs to stick with, out of faith, but Brown rewards the effort. Highly recommended for fans of horror with an element of science fiction, The Beach House starts streaming tomorrow (7/9), on Shudder.