There's Someone Inside Your House Review: A Satisfying Slasher
In a small town in Nebraska, a killer is striking, and the motive seems very clear. What begins with the murder of a local boy who's outed as a bully soon spreads to other victims from the local high school, and each body has something in common: They had a secret, something they were deeply invested in keeping from everyone else. For Makani (Sydney Park) that's especially frightening, because she also has a secret, one that she's kept from everyone in town, one that she moved away from her old home specifically to avoid. If she wants her secret to stay that way, and she wants to stay alive in the process, Makani has to find out who's murdering her classmates, and it might take facing a few painful truths with her friends Ollie (Theodore Pellerin), Alex (Asjha Cooper), and Darby (Jesse LaTourette) along the way.
The slasher gimmick at work, beyond just the targeting of local teens who have secrets, is that the killer wears a mask specially made to look like exactly like their victims, so in their final moments they're forced to face not some Halloween-masked monster or faceless knife-wielder, but themselves. It's a handy visual metaphor for the kind of slasher we're watching, and something that Brice and writer Henry Gayden use to great effect over the course of the film. Brice's slasher sensibilities are at times rather firmly rooted in various genre forebears, but that doesn't stop him from delivering on some very fun slasher tension, making creative use of some interesting death scenes, and staging one or two kills that will have your jaw on the floor by the time the scene is over. Gayden's script, which takes Perkins' novel and hones it down to a wicked, fast-paced edge, is sometimes perhaps just a bit too on the nose, hitting a kind of "Who's the real villain here?" beat a little hard for my taste, but the film is usually far too infused with the kind of free-for-all fun of the best of the slasher genre to notice.
What's even more impressive than the ways in which Brice and Hayden execute their concept on a scene-by-scene scale, though, is how every piece of the "There's Someone Inside Your House" production team seems to hit its mark with room to spare. Cinematographer Jeff Cutter infuses the murder scenes and the broader look and feel of the time with a certain sense of teenage wonder, making the whole thing feel more grand and apocalyptic, particularly toward the end. Composer Zachary Dawes finds that slasher movie score sweet spot, while production designer William Arnold captures the kind of emotional desperation of small town kids just looking for some sense of fulfillment whether he's working with corn mazes or bedrooms at home. It all works together to create a feeling of getting happily lost in this little world, walking alongside these characters as they march to either redemption or doom, depending on what the masked person out in the dark has in store for them.