Body horror made by Shudder: Coming just in time for Halloween THE BEACH HOUSE a nightmare that takes place in a confined space in the cinemas, which seems doubly oppressive given the current pandemic situation. We’ll reveal in our review whether this automatically makes the film good.
OT: The Beach House (USA 2019)
Teen couple Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) want to spend a romantic vacation at Randall’s father’s beach house. The idyllic, remote location seems perfectly suited for this. But shortly after their arrival, the two realize that they are not alone in the house. The Turners, a couple who are friends of Randall’s father, have already moved into the holiday home. Despite the age difference, the four get along brilliantly and spend a joyful evening together. The next day everyone suffers from the effects of the previous evening – or is it more than that? There’s something in the water, the Turners are acting absolutely strange, and slimy cocoons are appearing on the beach. Could it be that everything had to do with the glowing fog that had settled over the landscape in the evening? What Emily and Randall initially thought was a natural phenomenon seems to go far beyond that…
After the Corona crisis had thrown the international cinema landscape into disarray, some film distributors tried to outwit the crisis. Optionally with film release postponements to the VOD sector, after 2021 or with a spontaneous theatrical release of the catastrophe thriller “Pandemic”, which was released in Asia in 2013 and is about the fact that a deadly epidemic is spreading. Because if films like “Contagion” are booming on streaming platforms, then this concept can also work in the cinema. That would at least be an understandable reason why the independent distributor Koch Films decided at short notice to bring the body horror film “The Beach House”, which was actually designed for the genre streaming service “Shudder”, to USA cinemas. “The Beach House” is also about an invisible threat that first makes people very sick and then kills them. But here – despite all the sandy beach idyll – things are a little more monstrous.
Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) face an invisible threat.
Director and screenwriter Jeffrey A. Brown presents his feature film debut with “The Beach House” after directing two short films. The filmmaker previously worked as a location scout for many years and helped productions as diverse as “The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Non-Stop” and “The Dead Don’t Die” create their set pieces. Brown also demonstrated a keen eye for an appealing filming environment in the case of “The Beach House”. If you’re honest, the only reason the film stands out from the crowd of plague and body horror films is because it has a unique visual selling point with the deserted, pearly white sandy beach as its backdrop. In front of the panorama of this beautiful holiday backdrop, the horror of slime and spit can really unfold. It almost seems like a culture clash when the two couples, who actually just want to enjoy a few quiet vacation days, suddenly find themselves confronted with a threat that is initially difficult for them, as well as for the viewer, to grasp. Everything begins with disturbances in perception. Finally, numerous jellyfish-like animals flood the otherwise deserted beach. And at the latest, when the initially saturated colors become paler and paler over time, it becomes clear that something is really not right here.
“In front of the panorama of this beautiful holiday backdrop, the horror of slime and spit can really unfold.”
The two main actors, Liana Liberato, prove that this is the case (“If I stay”) and Noah Le Gros (“A score to settle”) to expression. Their interaction fluctuates from initially loving and exuberant to panicked and hysterical. But the more the situation escalates, the more superficial the characters act, which is also due to the lurid production. Cinematographer Owen Levelle (“Camp Off”) At the beginning it relies on long, calm tracking shots, against which the actors can develop their facial expressions. The Restrained Cut (Aaron Crozier, “Girl on the Third Floor”) and the subversive-threatening score (Roly Porter, “In Fear”) also ensure that the tension continually increases in the first half of the film. Halfway through the already manageable 88 minutes (including the end credits), this tension suddenly grows into a confusing hectic pace; The cut, which is now noticeably more jagged, combined with screamingly dissonant score fragments (Roly Porter is an electro musician known for his dubstep compositions) sets the panicked mood. It’s effective, but also striking – and definitely far less subtly threatening than half an hour before.
Emily faces death…
At least the slimy special effects match this lurid production. Director Jeffrey A. Brown cites genre classics such as “Alien”, “Parasite Killer” and “The Body Eaters are Coming” as sources of inspiration for the design of his nasty worm monsters. But it is less the parasitic appearance of the attackers that is convincing in “The Beach House” and more the way in which they are presented. One particularly memorable scene is where Emily can see the worm moving through her body through a hole in her foot. And her subsequent attempt to somehow get rid of the reptile really hurts to watch. Only in a few places was visibly helped with trick technology from the computer. Otherwise, the effects seem to have fallen out of time. “The Beach House” could just as easily have come from the late 1970s or early 1980s. Even thematically, Brown’s work would be in good company there. Even though in the end it’s all about the naked fight for survival and about letting the four characters die as spectacularly as possible, the message of nature turning against humans hovers over everything. The characters didn’t have to spell this out clearly, but “The Beach House” at least has a little bit of substance.
“Director Jeffrey A. Brown cites genre classics such as Alien, Parasite Killer and The Body Eaters Are Coming as sources of inspiration for the design of his nasty worm monsters.”
Conclusion: With his “The Beach House,” filmed against a magnificent backdrop, Jeffrey A. Brown presents a solid body shocker, but in terms of staging it falls in two halves. While the first one is convincing with its subtle hint of horror and disaster, the second one makes the film very lurid and hectic.
“The Beach House” can be seen in USA cinemas from October 22nd.