Synopsis: As the countdown to graduation begins, students at Osborne High are being stalked by a maniac intent on exposing their darkest secrets to the entire town, terrorizing victims while wearing a life-like mask of their own face.
Stars: Sydney Park, Théodore Pellerin, Asjha Cooper, Diego Josef, Dale Whibley, Jesse LaTourette, Burkely Duffield, Kayla Heller
Director: Patrick Brice
Running Length: 96 minutes (nearly 10 minutes of which are white end credits on a black screen)
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: Though it’s gone through an identity crisis a few times over the years, the “Netflix Film” is slowly finding that it doesn’t have to fit into one cookie cutter mold for any specific audience. It can be high art, low camp, heavy drama, silly comedy, sappy romance, or something along the lines of There’s Someone Inside Your House. Continuing their trend of turning popular bestselling YA fiction into movies or extended television series, it feels as if the streaming service has decided to really embrace its growing reputation as a haven for the teen slasher film (check out those Fear Street films 1994, 1978, 1666) and let me tell you, I am all about it. Nicely eschewing the nudity and sex that began to stink the genre up but retaining the high body count and gory viscera bloodletting that gives the category such a slumber party-ready type of naughty thrill, these are increasingly well-made features with good actors and nicely established material.
The 2017 novel by Stephanie Perkins sat on my nightstand for too long before I had to return it to my library (and pay at big fine, my mistake) so I was more than familiar with the title when it came up on the roster of October releases. Plot-wise, it’s nothing that has been prepared, baked, and served up countless times before but I also think that’s sort of what Perkins is going for and putting her own stamp on a time-worn premise. Adding in her own layer of complexity on top of an established base is what good writers often do and so it’s easy to move past the simplicity of There’s Someone Inside Your House which sees a masked killer exposing, and then killing, small town high school seniors hiding big secrets.
Among them are Makani (Sydney Park, Wish Upon), a relatively new student to the Nebraska town that we learn quickly has moved there to live with her grandma and escape a bad past at her previous school. She’s made friends easily with a group of social outsiders (for Nebraska that is, i.e. anyone not an athlete or church-going goody-goody) and they can only watch on as the first of their senior class is sliced up before the movie has barely clocked 10 of its 96 minute running time. Over the summer, Makani got close with local bad boy Ollie (Théodore Pellerin, Boy Erased) but now that school has started again, she ignores him, though he still wants them to be close. That wouldn’t fly with her friends that think he’s weird and maybe a little bit dangerous because of his past…and maybe he’s the one that continues to trim the senior class members one at a time through various bloody methods. (This killer wears a life-mask of all his victims, essentially making them stare at their own reflection when they die. In general, this killer goes to a lot of trouble to get things precisely right and have their intended targets right where they should be.)
It isn’t quite as easy to figure out who’s behind it all and even if you’ve read the book, screenwriter Henry Gayden has changed several key plot points throughout. The entire motivation for the crimes has changed in the transition to the screen and while that may disappoint hardcore fans of the source novel, to me it seems like Gayden focused the original ideas better for viewers instead of someone simply reading along. Director Patrick Brice uses his history helming both Creep films to stage a few dandy sequences of stalking/stabbing and in general the endeavor feels like something that would have drawn huge crowds opening weekend back in the heyday of these types of movies.
As October is gearing up and viewers are looking for newer choices to add to their queue for the Halloween holiday that’s about to haunt us, There’s Someone Inside Your House is absolutely a worthy option for consideration. It checks a lot of boxes and quite purposely leaves a few blank that never were requirements in the first place. Netflix should keep ‘em coming…and consider looking through some of those old cheapie films from the ’80s to see if any terrible original film might be calling for a remake.