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Our House Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by IFC Midnight

Our House Poster

Directed by Anthony Scott Burns
Written by Nathan Parker (screenplay) and Matt Osterman (based on the movie Ghost From the Machine)
2018, 90 minutes, Rated PG-13
Released on July 27th, 2018

Thomas Mann as Ethan
Nicola Peltz as Hannah
Kate Moyer as Becca
Percy Hynes White as Matt
Robert B. Kennedy as Tom

Our House 01 Our House 02


I'm a square-deal kind of guy for a lifelong horror fanatic. Every movie gets a fair shake with the smallest amount of preconceived notions and unfounded bias as possible. Still, I must confess very few things give me pause like the PG-13 rating on a "horror" film, and that's more than a bit unfair on my part. Does a movie need to have excessive cursing, insane gore, and plenty of T&A to be worth the time investment? No; it simply plays to a different target audience (I must be aging…I can't believe I said no!).

The trailer I was sent for Our House led me to believe that, while it certainly didn't look like an extreme Rob Zombie type of film, it had some true scare potential and good production value. Both of those things (along with the ability to present somewhat seriously) are key to pulling off that trickiest of tasks: making a well-crafted PG-13 horror movie that can make a little money in the theaters and build some word of mouth.

Our House tells the story of a tightly knit, idyllic family that's turned upside down in true Party of Five fashion when both parents are killed in a tragic car accident. This leaves the eldest son and scientific prodigy Ethan (Thomas Mann, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) to raise his younger brother, Matt (Percy Hynes White, Fox's The Gifted), and kid sister Becca (Kate Moyer). Ethan and his girlfriend, Hannah (the lovely Nicola Peltz, Bates Motel), built a machine that is designed to create wireless energy for all manner of devices. Unfortunately for them, the device taps into the spirit world and opens a channel for all manner of entities. They believe they're contacting they're parents. They're wrong.

A remake of 2010's Ghost From the Machine, it takes the smart approach of spending some time to let you feel the pain that this family is going through. More importantly, it wants you to feel what Ethan is going through. The whiz kid and valedictorian now drives the kids to school every day, fights the daily chores, and works in a supply store. It's drudgery, duty, and service. Thomas Mann does an admirable job of exuding familial love and grieving while longing to return to his machine. He plays the part with real nuance and subtlety.

Our House 03 Our House 04

Our House 05 Our House 06

The family first approach grounds Our House and keeps it from going into balls-out Insidious territory. The tone and the pacing stay nice and even throughout. There is no lag in engagement. You want to know where this family's story is going, and you feel the growing menace that swells around them. By the time Ethan resumes work on his machine and the grieving widower next door, Tom (Robert B. Kennedy, The Firm TV series), gets involved and boosts the signal (thereby widening the threat) you can see the writing on the wall.

There are strong hints of the greatest "non-R rated" horror movie of all time, Poltergeist. Two scenes stand out as damn near on par with that seminal classic. That's incredibly high praise for any movie. To be legitimately mentioned in the same breath as one of horror's great masterpieces means that the filmmakers have done their homework. The VFX have a great look to them without a hint of cheap.

It is still PG-13, though, so there is a safeness that you feel despite the excellent tone and sense of malice. These are your classic smoke specters that generally move slowly and heighten the atmosphere, but they won't make you shit your pants in fear. Hardcore horror fans will want more, so know what you are getting into. I would love to see a more extreme version of this, but I was equally sucked into what they did here. Serious style/savvy points for avoiding the cheapest of all PG-13 pitfalls – the excessive jump scares.

I sincerely hope Our House manages to make a little scratch at the box office and achieve that oh-so-elusive word of mouth that is the true tell of a good film. I wouldn't be bothered at all by dropping theater money to see this family drama/horror achievement. You shouldn't be either.

Our House 07 Our House 08


Movie: 3.5 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer - USA
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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