Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: The Happy House

Wonderfully droll horror comedy with a memorably weird cast of characters.

May 2, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1376608-Happy_House_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

“Leave, just leave!” How many times have you wanted to yell that at movie characters, from The Haunting to The Shining and beyond, who stay and stay in places that are obviously rife with evil spirits? Actually, in The Happy House, Wendy (Aya Cash) tries to do just that by fleeing the sinister B&B she has checked into, leaving behind her far more accommodating, infuriating husband Joe (Khan Baykal). But darned if her car doesn’t break down, bringing her back to this dread inn of iniquity.

Debut feature director/writer D.W. Young has created a puckishly diverting horror comedy, fully in the tradition of the great James Whale, who also loved to inject perversely unexpected humor into his chill factor. The final third, when the scares really set in, is the weakest part of the movie, but Young manages to sustain things overall with admirable poise and sneaky charm.

Young sketches an unlikely gallery of characters whom he clearly revels in and who are nearly as memorable as those in Whale’s deliriously twisted The Old Dark House. Besides feisty urbanite Wendy and terminally laid-back Joe, whose marriage is, unsurprisingly, on the rocks, there’s the dominating, purse-mouthed innkeeper Hildie (Marceline Hugot, quite magnificent), with her mingily doled out “best blueberry muffins in the world” (ubiquitous bane of all B&Bs) and her puritanical, endless book of rules forbidding swearing, spirits and basically anything resembling fun. The sole other guest is a Swedish lepidopterist bearing the immediately giggle-inducing name of Mr. Hverven (Oliver Henzler, nearly as droll as Christoph Waltz might have been in this role). And then there’s Hildie’s menacing hulk of an axe-wielding son, Skip (Mike Houston), and Linda (Kathleen McNenny), her blessedly irreverent sister.

This garrulously eccentric group—all of whom are eventually dumbfounded by the eventual turn of events—make for some amazingly agreeable company. After viewing The Happy House, however, one may seriously question any future notion of ever staying in one of those oh-so-“charming” roadside nooks filled with welcoming faces and the smell of freshly baked goodies in the air.


Film Review: The Happy House

Wonderfully droll horror comedy with a memorably weird cast of characters.

May 2, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1376608-Happy_House_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

“Leave, just leave!” How many times have you wanted to yell that at movie characters, from The Haunting to The Shining and beyond, who stay and stay in places that are obviously rife with evil spirits? Actually, in The Happy House, Wendy (Aya Cash) tries to do just that by fleeing the sinister B&B she has checked into, leaving behind her far more accommodating, infuriating husband Joe (Khan Baykal). But darned if her car doesn’t break down, bringing her back to this dread inn of iniquity.

Debut feature director/writer D.W. Young has created a puckishly diverting horror comedy, fully in the tradition of the great James Whale, who also loved to inject perversely unexpected humor into his chill factor. The final third, when the scares really set in, is the weakest part of the movie, but Young manages to sustain things overall with admirable poise and sneaky charm.

Young sketches an unlikely gallery of characters whom he clearly revels in and who are nearly as memorable as those in Whale’s deliriously twisted The Old Dark House. Besides feisty urbanite Wendy and terminally laid-back Joe, whose marriage is, unsurprisingly, on the rocks, there’s the dominating, purse-mouthed innkeeper Hildie (Marceline Hugot, quite magnificent), with her mingily doled out “best blueberry muffins in the world” (ubiquitous bane of all B&Bs) and her puritanical, endless book of rules forbidding swearing, spirits and basically anything resembling fun. The sole other guest is a Swedish lepidopterist bearing the immediately giggle-inducing name of Mr. Hverven (Oliver Henzler, nearly as droll as Christoph Waltz might have been in this role). And then there’s Hildie’s menacing hulk of an axe-wielding son, Skip (Mike Houston), and Linda (Kathleen McNenny), her blessedly irreverent sister.

This garrulously eccentric group—all of whom are eventually dumbfounded by the eventual turn of events—make for some amazingly agreeable company. After viewing The Happy House, however, one may seriously question any future notion of ever staying in one of those oh-so-“charming” roadside nooks filled with welcoming faces and the smell of freshly baked goodies in the air.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Laggies
Film Review: Laggies

Disappointing comedic entry about a late-20s slacker who won’t grow up is writer/filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s first outing directing someone else’s material. Points here for strong cast and an occasional chuckle, but otherwise there’s just no point. More »

Rudderless
Film Review: Rudderless

Well-done indie drama about a lost-soul house painter reborn through rock ’n’ roll is a nice actor’s showcase for star Billy Crudup and an impressive directorial debut for actor William H. Macy. But in spite of some good work onscreen, both hero and story lack the edge and originality to carry this drama beyond respectability. More »

Camp X-Ray
Film Review: Camp X-Ray

Army guard and Guantanamo detainee form a grudging relationship in a thoughtful but far-fetched drama. More »

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Film Review: The Tale of The Princess Kaguya

As charming as it is delicate, this unusually low-key, if a tad overlong, animated feature brings yet more prestige to the famed Ghibli output. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Birdman
Film Review: Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Virtuosic camerawork and a stellar ensemble of actors more than make up for the occasional moment of portentous twaddle in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's latest—and maybe his best—film. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here