Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #741
Number of Views: One
Release Date: October 31, 2015 (RIP Film Festival)
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 88 minutes
Director: Todd Nunes
Producers: Stephen Readmond, Christopher Stanley
Screenplay: Todd Nunes
Special Effects: Tommy Pietch, Josh McCarron
Cinematography: Ryan J. Anderson
Score: Irving Victoria
Editing: Alexis Evelyn
Studio: The Readmond Company
Distributor: 101 Films
Stars: Ashley Mary Nunes, Melynda Kiring, Jason Schumacher, Natalie Montera, Danica Riner, Lito Velasco, Jessica Cameron, Jennifer Wenger, Johanna Rae, Cathy Garrett, Matt Poeschl, Kelsey Carlstedt, Lyndon Laveaux, Tamra Garrett, Justice Lee
Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫
 Talking Heads “Psycho Killer”
 Kevin MacLeod “Deck the Halls B”
I’ve been watching horror movies ever since the diaper came off and like to consider myself pretty adaptable. On one hand, we have out big budget studio efforts, replete with multiple bells and whistles while, on the other, the small passion projects without the luxury of disposable income that have to get by on charm alone. Being such a massive supporter of the indie scene, I’m only too happy to slum it and overlook any minor flaws as I appreciate the amount of hard work and love required to get these labors of love out there in the first place. Should any movie made on a shoestring lack entirely in merit, then I choose not to appraise it, simple as that. I’m only interested if I feel I can bring something to the table, offer criticism that’s constructive as opposed to fueling my own ego, and hopefully unearth a rough diamond in the process.
Todd Nunes’ All Through the House pays affectionate homage to a sub-genre I happen to be particularly well versed on, the eighties slasher. It wears both its heart and influences on its sleeve, makes no attempt to stymie its audience into believing it’s something it clearly isn’t, and at 88 minutes long, isn’t looking to outstay its welcome. If I were that way inclined, then I could pick it apart thread by thread, but then I’d be missing the whole point of the exercise as it never once claims to be high art. Neither does it possess a lick of originality or thematic depth. This is strictly by-the-numbers slasher fare, the likes of which audiences used to clamor over during the decade it revisits. Does that make it a waste of our precious time and energy? Hell no, apply any necessary perspective in advance and you should be halfway to easy street. Just don’t go expecting meaningful dialogue, unless “I’m gonna moonwalk on that pussy” constitutes as Shakespearian in your book.
Straight from the get-go, Nunes sets out his stall and decks the halls with hacked off body parts within the first five minutes. As a rule, the opening dispatches in slasher flicks are relatively tame, just a brief taste of what’s to come, but here it’s a case of all in before the cards have even been dealt and we’re left under no illusion whatsoever as to where his priorities lie. There’s never a bad time for Jessica Cameron to be thrown into the mix in my opinion and she makes the very most of the opportunity to die horribly (after the obligatory shower of course). If Nunes is looking to pique his audience’s interest, then he certainly goes about it energetically. The question is whether he’ll be able to sustain this for the next eighty minutes or so.
Next on the checklist are some damsels to place in distress and he gets any meet and greet out-of-the-way with a minimum of dalliance. We are duly introduced to Rachel (Ashley Mary Nunes), a college student returning to her hometown for the holidays, where her besties Gia (Natalie Montera) and Sarah (Danica Riner) suggest picking up exactly where the trio left off. One person thrilled to see her back is old flame Cody (Jason Schumacher), who she walked out on with nary a goodbye and who still harbors hope of a reconciliation. However, the girls have other things on their mind, such as finding a suitable spot to settle in for the night and catch up on all the gossip that has amassed since Rachel upped and left.
Enter the most hospitable and only mildly sinister looking Mrs. Garrett (Melynda Kiring), a Christmas-obsessed old dear who hasn’t left the house since her five-year-old Jamie disappeared without trace under suspicious circumstances over fifteen years ago. She’s only too happy for the girls to use her home as a base and leaves them to their own devices while she breaks her long-standing curfew and heads out to do something that she’s not prepared to make clear. If we’re in any doubt that Mrs. Garrett is a raging nutbag, then one look at the Yuletide shrine that she has constructed meticulously should be a fair indicator that not all the chickies are in the nest here. At any rate, the girls agree to house-sit and it’s time to get back to the whole people dying horribly deal.
Nunes doesn’t skimp on the body count, even if this means introducing characters just to act promiscuous, before being torn asunder in all manner of inventive ways using our masked killer’s trademark shears. Any keen slasher enthusiasts won’t be required to engage too much of the grey matter to spot numerous affectionate nods to the likes of Juan Piquer Simón’s Pieces, Jack Sholder’s Alone In The Dark, Amy Holden Jones’ The Slumber Party Massacre, and of course, Tony Maylam’s The Burning. There are also a couple of plot twists woven in although figuring them out is unlikely to land you that apple from teacher. The director’s main requisite here is that a good time is had by all and it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t achieve this through sheer enthusiasm if nothing else.
While the dialogue is intentionally ham-fisted, our leading lady gives a creditable account of herself, screaming in all the right places before channeling her inner crazy and showing she has the brass balls to mount that final act challenge. As for our killer, well this bad Santa’s nothing if not imposing, and makes up for any lack of real sustainable tension by using those phallic shears to make their point time and again. Nunes may play things according to gospel, but he cannot be accused of not having done his homework. The overall look of the thing is impressive, while Ryan J. Anderson’s slicker than it oughta be cinematography is especially worthy of note and donates an additional level of sheen to the fiendish festive flourish.
Had All Through The House been released thirty years ago, then I’m sure it would have found its audience as it harks back with such a sense of unabashed and wide-eyed glee that it cannot help but win you over. Considering Nunes had such limited resources at his disposal, what he manages to muster is impressive and there is more than enough evidence here that he is a young filmmaker to watch in the future. Ultimately our enjoyment hinges on whether or not we’re able to accept it on its own terms and cast our minds back to a time when slasher flicks did precisely what was stated on the gift tag. Alongside Justin Russell’s The Sleeper and Joseph Ariola’s Knock Knock, it reminds us what can be done with a miniscule budget and whole bundle of passion and, while that may not be reflected in the score it ultimately receives, I’ll never be one to dismiss such endeavor. Tis the season of goodwill after all.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 6/10
Grue Factor: 5/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Films such as this live or die by the amount of splatter they’re willing to serve up on the platter and the news here is some way more than encouraging as All Through The House possesses one helluva mean streak. We are provided for by way of numerous gory stabbings, castration, over-zealous manicure, and a wildly amusing runaway wheelchair dash for good measure, while the practical effects by Tommy Pietch and Josh McCarron revel in every last grisly atrocity and do their level best not to miss a single snip. There’s also a smidgen of T&A just to nail those slasher fundamentals even more and Nunes does more than sufficient to ensure his place on the naughty list.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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