Ethan (Thomas Mann) has to take on the role of parent to his younger siblings Matt (Percy Hynes White) and Becca (Kate Moyer) when their parents are killed in a tragic car accident. Putting aside his own ambitions, Ethan gets a job and provides for the family but when he gets some time on his own he continues to work on a machine that he believes will create wireless electricity. What he doesn’t realise is that his machine has opened a door between the dead and the living, putting him and his brother and sister in danger.
Our House is based on Matt Osterman’s 2010 film Ghosts in the Machine. Taking the basic premise from that movie, writer Nathan Parker fleshes out the story adding more characters and changing some of the key plot points. Anyone who likes their horror movies to jump in with two feet will possibly find the pacing of Our House a little slow but that’s what I actually liked about it. Not being familiar with the original movie, or its story, I was drawn in by what is a very character-driven first half. We get to know Ethan, Matt and Becca, which is essential to the success of the movie because you need to care about what might happen to them.
For me where Our House succeeds is that it doesn’t rush to show its hand. Although you know things are going to the take a turn for the sinister, it’s an enjoyable ride getting to the final act. Things start off with some nice nods to Poltergeist as Becca and Matt believe they are able to communicate with their deceased parents. Ethan remains sceptical but he indulges his siblings and continues to experiment with his machine, thanks to an assist from his neighbour Tom (Robert B. Kennedy). From there on the creepy factor ramps up and Our House builds to a gripping climax.
Director Anthony Scott Burns draws superb performances from his young cast. Thomas Mann is believable as the older sibling forced to look after his family while Kate Moyer gives a surprisingly layered performance for her young age as Becca. The standout though is Percy Hynes White who steals the show as Matt. He could have played the role as a sulky teenager but instead he fully realises the struggle of his character and how he fits into the family dynamic. Matt is a constant reminder to Ethan that their parents’ death could be his fault while he’s fiercely protective of Becca.
Before seeing Our House I’d read some scathing reviews and honestly the movie doesn’t deserve the rough ride it’s been given. It doesn’t play on cheap scares, instead opting to let the characters drive the story. The moral at the heart of the story, as with the original movie, is one that will leave you pondering long after the movie ends – if you could communicate with loved ones who had passed on would and should you? I thoroughly enjoyed Our House and it’s definitely been one of my surprises at this year’s Arrow Video FrightFest.
Cast: Thomas Mann, Nicola Pelz, Percy Hynes White, Kate Moyer, Lucius Hoyos, Robert B. Kennedy Director: Anthony Scott Burns Writer: Nathan Parker Certificate: TBC Duration: 90 mins Released by: XYZ Films