With horror movies, the same formulas and puzzles are used over and over. There’s nothing wrong with this, as these formulas tend to work with audiences. Sometimes these movies can change nicely and ruin expectations, while other times the overused formula can turn stale.
Alex McAulay’s A House On The Bayou is the first of eight series collaborations between Blumhouse Television and EPIX. The movie has a similar “isolation” game has been used many times before but has some unique twists and turns that set it apart from the others. At the same time, it feels like movies like Fun game (1997) or Stranger (2008), but this does not make the film any less entertaining.
A House On The Bayou tells the story of an estranged family consisting of parents John (Paul Schneider), Jessica (Angela Sarafyan) and ten-year-old daughter Anna (Lia McHugh’s the eternal). To try to reunite as a family, they take an intimate vacation at a secluded home in the Gulf of Louisiana. When the unexpected and overly friendly neighbors arrive, their family’s dark secrets begin to unravel.
The film begins with a close-up of Jessica, wearing a bright blue blouse with her dark, depressed eyes. She is full of anxiety but also appears calm, patiently waiting for her cheating husband to come home, she will eventually confront him. When John arrives, Jessica calmly tells him that she knows of his affair with student Vivienne (Lauren Richards), which he repeatedly denies until Jessica gives him sufficient proof. Instead of wanting a divorce, she wants to save their marriage and family, and this is where she proposes a getaway.
The bright room of the house and Jessica’s bright outfit contrast with the dark tones of the opening scene. Despite being a beautiful house, everything in this place looks pretty bare: dark couches, dim walls. The only brightness was from the natural light from outside hitting Jessica’s striking crying face. Even before Jessica faced her husband, the sense of isolation in the house accentuated Jessica’s depressed demeanor. Along with low-pitched but fast-paced, anxiety-inducing synthesizer in the background, the first five minutes of the film immediately show the slow demise of the family.
The music gets more intense as the family drives to their getaway with a foreboding score. Synths once soft become louder, and the tone of the instrument becomes darker. While this scary spot plays out, the beautiful scenery shows tall trees and long roads from the countryside.
When they got home, John and Anna rushed to the grocery store. Anna meets her new neighbor, Isaac (Jacob Lofland), an attractive but intimidating 18-year-old who is instantly enchanted. A House On The Bayou moves from dramatic to sinister tone after the family arrives at their “getaway”. The fact that this movie is going to be a horror movie is clear and obvious when the cashier writes, “You’re being watched by the devil” on the receipt. When they return home, almost immediately, Isaac and his Grandpappy (Doug Van Liew) appear. He was also the cashier who wrote the ominous message. They invited me over to dinner, and although tired, the family allowed them to join. The already complicated family dynamics began to fall apart completely.
A House On The Bayou filled with slow, eerie footage of the scary house, with the same heavyweight song from the opening playing throughout. Music immediately gives a sense of harbinger of “something is wrong,” even if nothing has happened yet. The film is set in time, but the music, the spooky house, and the eerily quiet neighborhood in rural Louisiana create an ominously surreal atmosphere early on.
The location of the movie and the locals of this rural town make A house of Bayou what is it. When interviewed for Wearecritx.com, director Alex McAulay explains his inspiration for the film: “I’ve always had this idea; I grew up in Texas. I was like, in an age where there are still child preachers, I’m going to the state fair with my dad, and like a child preacher in The children of corn vibration type. And I like, yes, I like the idea of exploring those types of characters. There’s something creepy and weird about what I love. “
In the first hour, the movie is a bit subdued and tightly intertwined to typical isolation and home invasion thrillers; it’s different from this in the last third act. Grandpappy plays a vinyl, which is a recorded conversation between John and Vivienne, where he promises her that he will divorce Jessica. While holding the gun, Isaac tells John to get out, and John starts yelling at Isaac for not “fulfilling the plan”. Here, it is revealed that John hired Isaac and “Grandpappy” to kill Jessica, making it easy for John to leave her unaffected. This seems to be the main plot twist in the movie, but it doesn’t even come close, and the viewer is constantly bombarded with more twists and turns.
Vivienne was forcibly arrived at the house, and when she arrived, Jessica told her they were being held hostage. Trying to find help, she ran to her car but got stuck. In a grotesque and hard-to-watch scene, Anna is forced to fill up Vivienne’s car with gas or he will shoot her mother. Jessica took the gas from Anna and made it herself. After Jessica kills Vivienne, Isaac, and Grandpappy, she and Anna run as fast as they can. When Jessica and Anna arrive at the police station, the officer reveals to Jessica that they use Isaac and Grandpappy to help “remove the disorderly people” in order to keep the town safe. They have also been around for millions of years.
A House On The Bayou There are so many twists and turns that the plot can feel messy. What exactly is this movie trying to say? Is the message of the movie about sin and karma? The wrong people will you get what they “deserve”? Honestly, the movie can’t decide what the central message is. It can’t decide if it wants to be more like Fun game or Anniversary. It has some great heartbreaking moments between the family that can last, and could also be better with less twists, as it can get overwhelming. It has some great gruesome murder scenes, an exceptional cast, but lacks plot development. To the end, A House On The Bayou It’s still very entertaining, will keep the audience’s attention, and is definitely a movie worth watching.
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