Don’t let the trashy neon UK cover art fool you, Girlhouse may be going straight to DVD in this country but it’s one of the best horror movies I’ve seen so far this year.
After the sudden death of her father, student Kylie Atkins desperately needs cash to finish her studies and support her mother. She reluctantly decides to move into the Girlhouse, a luxury mansion house with all mod cons, wired with over 50 cameras which stream live to an X-Rated website. The more subscribers watching your antics, the more cash you make. Morally, it doesn’t sit well with Kylie but she has no other option. She proves immediately popular with subscribers but a misunderstanding sees deranged lunatic Loverboy turn up at the door with an axe to grind!
This film from the team behind both Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer and The Shrine is a lot of fun. From its shocking opening sequence (featuring Camren Bicondova who is now a young Selina Kyle/Catwoman in Gotham) until its satisfying conclusion, Girlhouse delivers the goods. For starters, the cast are good with Ali Cobrin (who you’ll recognise from Bad Neighbours, American Reunion & The Hole) making a very likeable and sympathetic final girl as Kylie and that’s just for starters. There’s a lot going on here character/relationship wise. There’s conflict with Kylie and her flatmate, who doesn’t agree that her only option is to ‘flash her vertical smile’ for cash online, a burgeoning romance with old classmate Ben, who is hiding a secret and tension with one of the other girls, Devon.
The film looks great, every penny of the budget is accounted for on screen and there are so many clever nods to other horror movies throughout from Halloween to Texas Chain Saw to The Strangers to REC that there’s no mistaking this film was made by horror fans for horror fans. There’s even a great score by Tomandandy! What’s not to love?
Well, I will say that there are a couple of moments that stretch credibility beyond belief. Whilst most of the deaths are suitably gory and one is preceded by a corking jump scare, one is absolutely ridiculous and whilst I get the intent, I can’t believe the filmmakers went through with it. Tonally, it didn’t sit well with the rest of the film and I personally thought it was a huge mistake. I also wasn’t sold on the killer’s mask. He ended up looking like a cross between Leatherface and Lora Lee Sherman from Cherry Falls.
I settled down to watch this knowing very little about it, thinking it would be a low rent cheesy boobs and blood movie. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the opening quote by Ted Bundy to many pleasant surprises as the credits rolled, Anne McCarthy (A Perfect Getaway, Insidious, The Conjuring) was the casting director (surely a sign of quality)! I had a blast with this.