Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #425
Number of Views: One
Release Date: 14 February 2015 (USA)
Country of Origin: Canada
Running Time: 100 minutes
Director: Trevor Matthews
Producers: Trevor Matthews, Nick Gordon, Cory Neal
Screenplay: Nick Gordon
Special Effects: David Scott
Cinematography: Christopher Norr
Editing: Matthew Brulotte
Studio: Brookstreet Pictures
Distributor: Entertainment One
Stars: Ali Cobrin, Adam DiMarco, Slaine, James Thomas, Alyson Bath, Elysia Rotaru, Alice Hunter, Chasty Ballesteros, Nicole Arianna Fox, Zuleyka Silver, Wesley MacInnes, Erin Agostino, Camren Bicondova, Isaac Faulkner, Peter J. Gray
Suggested Audio Candy
Supreme Villain featuring Rite Hook “The Enemy”
Horror traditionally follows cycles. Recently there have been an influx of cyber-savvy terrorization flicks doing the rounds with The Den, Open Windows, Antisocial, Smiley and the currently trending Unfriended all doing the rounds. You can now add Trevor Matthews’ Girl House to that ever-growing list. Highlighting the perils of technology, it takes a Big Brother approach, playing out almost entirely over live feed and perhaps closest resembles Halloween Resurrection than any of the aforementioned. That, in itself, is hardly a testimonial for quality as Rick Rosenthal’s entry was easily the runt of its particular litter.
Many will remember Matthews as the leading man from Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (which he also co-wrote) and here he takes to the director’s chair for the first time. Web cams aside, it closest resembles Slumber Party Massacre and the glut of women-in-peril flicks which emerged in the late eighties. We’re talking a gaggle of stock characters, none of which are fleshed out other than the central character, a handful of inventive kills, and a little T&A to pad out the overlong 100 minute running time. All bases are soundly covered and Girl House chooses against innovation in favor of familiarity, despite its concept.
Our main protagonist is Kylie (Ali Corbin), a college student who is struggling with her tuition fees and also burdened by the recent passing of her father. Looking to raise some extra funds and more than aware that her two chief assets (lefty and righty) have nipples at their peaks, she throws caution to the wind and relocates to Girl House, a 24-7 live feed which transmits globally using the wonders of the worldwide web to get the deviants off. Their movements within the mansion are chronicled via an intrusive camera network which offers the viewer a more exhaustive experience than the simple squirt of hand cream, log off, and delete internet history affair.
Where Girl House deviates from the norm is that the killer is revealed from the offset and his stimulation for slaughter made abundantly clear in the process. After an underhanded round of “show me yours and I’ll show you mine” ends in discomfiture for our chubby adolescent at the hands of a pair of odious mean girls, the poor boy’s decidedly delicate mind snaps in a fit of controlled rage and he grabs himself a slither of revenge pie pronto like the comfort-eater that he is. This entails placing a twig in the spokes of his main antagonist’s bicycle as she crosses a bridge, watching her milk teeth shatter on the iron girders, then nudging her off into the ravine below while she snivels her apology. There’s a message here kids.
Cut to present and the pudgy lad has now turned all that blubber to muscle and reinvented himself as Loverboy (George Carroll aka urban wordsmith Slaine). If this suggests that he has used his humiliation as a platform to locate his identity then, alas, the fact that he locks himself away in a dank basement drooling over the occupants of Girl House should dissuade this. He does however hold down a stable nine to five and knows a thing or two about motherboards and internal RAM so it stands to reason that he it will prove no hardship ascertaining the coordinates of this supposedly impenetrable fortress.
Despite the fact that Kylie is given man-oath that the technology is unhackable and location secure; a simple four digit code affords access. Inside, it’s all pillow-fights and hot soapy showers; nary a constructive conversation, and a fickle sisterhood which soon turns against you the moment you jack up in the bathroom. Kylie tires of this and instead hooks up with long-time admirer and one-time ugly duckling Ben (Adam DiMarco). Ben makes up for what he lacks in smarts with a sweet smile and faint condescension, as he challenges Kylie about her moonlighting exploits, despite the fact that the moment he kisses her cheek and they go their separate ways, he’s back to the dorm to crank one out.
Their blossoming relationship is actually kind of sweet but also a little superfluous as nearly an hour has passed before Loverboy has gained access to Girl House and these co-eds aren’t slaughtering themselves. The final act is where the real meat and potatoes lays as we finally get to see just how our dispatch artist goes about his business. Clad in an ill-fitting latex mask replete with bedraggled black hair, he cuts a rather formidable figure and Matthews wisely affords him the ability to dash as opposed to simply tilting his head and strolling with nonchalance. Moreover, the lambs in question are often more resilient than their breed traditionally are in such situations and aren’t prepared to go down without a considerable skirmish. Suddenly, it looks as though Matthews may just have his angle.
Keeper’s personal standout moment, and containing a dash of subtext to boot, concerns one shallow golden girl who, after accumulating a number of facial abrasions, having her fingers chopped off at their knuckles with a pocket tomahawk, and having to suffer the indignity of relaying the address to Alex via the tip of her dainty little nose, decides that a life without beauty is not worth contemplating and promptly suffocates herself instead. What a role model. Elsewhere, the sauna scene is delightful and also shows the kind of pluck these sorority girls possess, albeit ultimately ending in tears.
Where Girl House stumbles is that, like our Loverboy, there is a tad too much fat on its bones. 80 minutes would have sufficed and a touch less exposition and a more streamlined approach may have seen it good. The performances are solid enough, with Ben’s net comrade Alex (Wesley MacInnes) being a particularly welcome inclusion, and it punches above its weight in respect of meager budget undoubtedly. Kudos to Matthews for the amount of effort he would have been required to put in during post as it is some ask fashioning an intricate enough design template to sell the concept. However, for all its numerous bells and whistles it hints at more than it is able to provide and, in this respect at least, it’s a curious misfire.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 6/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: The kills are a mixed bag but supply plentiful talking points. From disappointingly off-screen bludgeoning, to sawed off heads and death by oversized dildo asphyxiation, you’re never quite sure what to expect. One thing you will foresee is a little shameless full frontal nudity; considering the amount of supple curves shoehorned into this slut palace. Matthews is, by-and large, pretty restrained although he does come good on the skin quota. This pleases Keeper as blood + breasts = bonsai payday and is surely the pre-requisite for a film titled Girl House.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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