Now here’s a weird one! Not in a bad way, but “weird” as in “interesting, odd, sometimes even a little frustrating, but also rather fascinating and oddly satisfying once all is said and done.” (It’s a rarely used definition of “weird,” true.)
What sounds like a run-of-the-mill premise (“masked psycho terrorises two women in a house”) turns out to be a low-budget yet slyly intelligent rumination on everything from basic gender politics and domestic abuse to deeper, creepier psychological maladies. That The House of Him also works as a sly subversion on many of the horror movie tropes we all know by now is sort of an added bonus.
“Him” (Richard Rankin) is a clearly unhinged (and exceedingly loquacious) psychopath who has lured two young women into the death trap he calls a home. Poor Sophie (Kirsty Strain) suffers a gruesome injury right off the bat, but it seems that our central lunatic has other plans for Anna (Louise Stewart). At first those plans include a series of arguments about the nature of victimization and how much “Him” loves to make women suffer. At first Anna plays along with the misogynistic rants to save her skin, but as the film goes on, she becomes considerably tougher…
And that’s sort of when The House of Him gets a little bit weirder, and a whole lot more interesting. Writer/director Robert Florence is clearly a student of the genre, and the astute horror fans will notice slivers of influence that echo everything from Roman Polanski to John Carpenter to Don Coscarelli, with maybe a few dashes of early Cronenberg, but I can’t explain why without spoiling anything. Although clearly produced on very limited means, The House of Him is certainly not lacking in thematic depth or cerebral concepts, and Mr. Florence does a fine job of evoking earlier films without simply stealing their ideas.
If you’re looking for a basic “stalk and chase” horror flick, The House of Him is probably not your best bet this evening. If, however, you can appreciate a rough, smart, homemade horror movie that has some stark, challenging subtext and that gradually progresses from a genre-mash-up to a certifiable mind-bender, I’d say The House of Him warrants a look. And it’d probably make for a pretty interesting double feature alongside Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead’s Resolution (2012), should you need an additional recommendation or reference point. They’re both pretty weird, but come on. You can only watch Scream 3 so many times.
Scott Weinberg (@ScottEWeinberg)
The House of Him is available on UK VOD here.