To my tastes, the “home invasion” subgenre has produced a few winners over the years; Wait Until Dark (1967), Funny Games (1997), The Strangers (2008); hell, even Mother’s Day (2010) had some saving graces. The big problem with this type of film is that it seems to be tough to come up with an original spin on it; something new to grab our attention. Thus, it was with mild cynicism that I sat down to watch Home Sweet Home, expecting more of the same that I was used to; psychos trap a family in their house/vacation home/hotel room, I sit and scream at the screen as I watch said family making totally dumbass choices whilst trying to survive.
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Written and directed by David Morlet, I found the movie to be a worthy watch, and a fun take on the subgenre.
We lead off this film inside a very normal-looking, everyday house-next-door. The camera shows us around on a brief tour; the kitchen and its drippy faucet, the living room with its nice furnishings, the grandmother leaving a message on the answering machine…all very nice and comfortable. We watch the front door as it’s unlocked from the other side, and a male enters, disarming the alarm system and looking about. Quickly, we smell a rat; with his weird, silent demeanor, surgical gloves and the fact we never see his face, it’s pretty clear that a) this guy doesn’t live here, and b) he sure as hell ain’t collecting for the United Way. We watch him pilfer about the home; looking at personal things on the family computer, watching the television, playing with the baby’s mobile, rifling through drawers (although carefully replacing everything just so ) and even taking a piss…then he calmly takes out a cordless drill and begins sealing the windows with three-inch screws. By the time the couple arrives back home (thank Christ little Junior is staying with Gramma), we know bad stuff is on the agenda. Here’s where the stress builds; we get a little time to get to know these folks, see how normal they are, all the while knowing what they are oblivious to.
What gets to you in this opening sequence is the feeling of violation, the loss of sanctity; the fact that this house reminds you of your own (or your mom’s or someone’s), and here’s this son of a bitch just rambling about in it like he owns the place, stealthily just out of sight. It makes the once comfortable house now somehow sinister, alien. It’s his house now, and this poor family is just prey in his web. You know that soon, all hell is going to break loose, and you feel the couple’s vulnerability even more having seen this psycho’s meticulous preparations.
Once the action begins, it’s pretty quick and ugly, but that’s not to say it isn’t done intelligently. Of course, there were some weaknesses, but I thought they were kept to a minimum (although there’s one hell of an argument to be made in this flick about overdoing firearm safety), and the actors all brought something convincing and real to the table for me; none of their actions seemed stupidly contrived just to serve the script (well, maybe just one ). There wasn’t a huge amount of gore, but what there was I thought sufficiently disturbing and quite realistic…and I have to say, the mask of the intruder (a kind of hybrid Jason’s hockey mask/Michael Myers’ mask/the face of that wooden fucker from The Fear ), was totally freakish. There’s a moderately telegraphed “twist” at the end (if you’re paying attention), but I still found it satisfying.
For a pretty creepy way of spending ninety minutes or so, you could do a lot worse than this little flick; I myself found it unsettling and genuinely spooky. It’s not the best of its kind, but it’s pretty darned good. If I had to nitpick, I can see where a complaint could be made that there’s no motivation for what happens in the film (like I heard a lot of bitching about The Strangers ), but I myself found that made the film all the more frightening; to paraphrase the immortal words of a very wise man, some people just want to watch the world burn.
Me, I’m glad I watched this film.
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