The Happy House (2013)
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Critic Reviews for The Happy House
The film, a sleepy, low-budget affair, merely enacts a series of horror movie clichés, as if that were enough. Its bland actors and wit-free script do nothing with the familiar elements but present them.
The only surprises in D.W. Young's tiny low-budget debut are how mildly he satirizes this thinnest of genres and how sincerely he treats his clichéd characters.
Wonderfully droll horror comedy with a memorably weird cast of characters.
"The Happy House" is nothing if not a fresh mixture of colorful characters, questionable manners, and rusty, suddenly-new-again horror conventions.
Audience Reviews for The Happy House
I hate to start off with this, since this will certainly drive some people away, if there are any who read this, but this is a hipster anti-horror movie. What I mean by anti-horror is the same principle as anti-comedy. In the latter, the comedian in question says something that is purposely unfunny. The audience is expecting a joke, but when they don't actually get one, that is, in and of itself, the joke. And it's the same principle here. I don't actually mean that the filmmakers or cast themselves hate horror films, which they may for all I know. This is something as an aside, as it doesn't relate to the review, but it does relate to people hating horror movies. There's this blurb from Michael Atkinson, of the Village Voice, that comes across as so condescending to horror films. He describes it as the thinnest of genres. I believe film criticism is important, particularly if you like a particular reviewer's writing style. I believe it can create healthy debates between film nerds. What I can't stand is people throwing shade, as the kids say nowadays, on film genres without having full knowledge of them. I would respect Mr. Atkinson's opinion if he had, in fact, watched every horror movie ever made since the beginning of film. Since this covers countless films from many different countries, I find it to be an irrelevant and needless comment. Not to mention the fact that it insults independent filmmakers who attempt to push the genre forward in ways that you don't see many other genres currently attempt. So to Mr. Atkinson I say, don't be a dick regarding a genre you clearly have limited knowledge about. With that said, I don't know what quite to make of this movie. It's certainly a film of two halves. First half attempts to be a droll comedy while, not particularly cleverly, playing with horror tropes. I will say that I thought the characters themselves were solidly written, at least in terms of actually having fairly well-defined personalities. If there's one thing you cannot say about this movie is that it skimps on its characters. They're all very distinct from one another and that dynamic is what, to me, is most enjoyable about the film. The problem comes in the fact that, to me, they don't really give these characters anything interesting to make the film truly compelling or, really, worth giving a shot to. These characters are certainly loquacious, but they're not really saying anything that's worth paying attention to. It's like they were going for a Seinfeld vibe, a horror movie about nothing, at least for the first 50 minutes. But, here's the thing, I fucking hate Seinfeld. I've given the show several shots and it's never made me laugh. The only episode I remember slightly chuckling at was the first Soup Nazi episode. That's it. Which is a shame, since Seinfeld had some really good comedic actors, with the exception of Seinfeld himself, who was just awful. But, I digress. The point is that it's 40 minutes into the movie when an escaped murderer is first mentioned. It's another 10 minutes before he actually shows up. So, yes, for 50 minutes, you have these characters just talking and talking and talking without anything happening. And it's just, honestly, a little boring. The film played with the fact that you thought Hildie and Skip used their bed and breakfast as a cover to commit unspeakable acts to the people that stay there. But after about 20 minutes, that's put to rest. I will say that the horror sections of the film were far more interesting than everything that came before it. And that's because it was actually focused. There was actually something they had to work towards, instead of just talking about, literally, nothing. And it's not like the horror itself is great, since the villain doesn't particularly threatening. Yea, he's meant to be a regular guy, he's not a supernatural force like Jason or Leatherface. But there could have been more of an effort to make the villain a little more threatening. Because, the way the film played out, it felt more like a joke than anything else. And many that's what they were going for, particularly with how the villain dies. This might actually be the funniest scene in the entire film, which tells you how funny the rest of it isn't. It's certainly a stupid way to die, but it did make me chuckle. The film is well-cast, so I don't have any complaints on that front. I just wish this just hadn't felt like such a waste of time. I'm sure some think that this is a droll masterpiece, but I just didn't enjoy this movie at all. It's not a bad movie. I've seen bad movies and this is not it. I feel that some effort was actually put into this movie. But the fact of the matter is that that effort simply wasn't enough to make this a good movie. I felt it was a little boring to watch and I could have spent my 80 minutes watching something else. Or I could have been playing Horizon Zero Dawn. That would have been more productive than having to sit through this chore of a movie.
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