A young couple vacationing in Niagara Falls, Ontario is abducted. Imprisoned within a concrete, underground chamber Steven and Heather are given clues via telephone from their unseen assailant on how to open any one of four suitcases left to their devices or perhaps their very survival.
Directed by: Gabriel Carrier
Starring: Lindsay Smith, Ryan Kotack, Henry Rollins, Ry Barrett
June 1998 Summer Was Never The Same
In The House of Flies epitomises claustrophobic, gritty, dark terror that is a half heartbeat away from any chosen person’s reality.
Gripping performances are given all around from Ryan Kotack in the role of Steven to the captivating Lindsay Smith playing Heather. Each embodies a sense of innocence and purity that is gradually obliterated one shred at a time towards the very frays of insanity. As the audience we virtually breathe and bleed their sense of despair and abandoned hope as the clock ticks towards their inevitable demise. We sense their fear and loss of hope through most compelling emotion and dialogue that reigns true. There isn’t a moment in which the audience isn’t privy to the fact these two love birds may never see the light of day again.
Henry Rollins conveys a most convincing captor. No easy feat considering we don’t get to achieve any clear visual of his portrayal. His voice is menacing, dominating, enough to instill sheer horror into anyone’s psyche. An undeniable sense of chemical unbalance comes shining through as we sense the kicks he gets from his psychological ploys.
It’s evident the production was made on a shoestring with very little in terms of varying sets or assortment of characters. Yet it hinders not the overall impact of the story. In the case of In The House of Flies less is no question more and is testament that a most riveting scream flick can be achieved with just the right nuance and finesse.
While one may get the impression that this film is strictly a mind twist of a thriller, it’s much more than that. Genre fans that tend to gravitate more towards the gut wrenching gore factors will not be disappointed. A couple of scenes come to mind that are have no shortage of blood and perhaps another ditty that involves a creative use of vermin.
The subtext of relationships, love and what we would ultimately do for the one we love is powerful if not eerie as the plot continues to escalate and we find out just what makes characters Steven and Heather tick. Their cohesion and compatibility is eventually questioned as apparently their captors are succeeding by getting into their heads. What makes this viewing experience out of the ordinary is the degree in which they not only struggle to overcome the obvious conflict of each other but soon realize the very real conflict is one another and within each other.
Director Gabriel Carrier does an outstanding job of emulating the late ‘80’s time frame. From fashion, hairstyles, cars, technology and even the musical use of hair groups like Loverboy and Brighton Rock exudes a certain sense of nostalgia for those of us around long enough to remember the era. Further Canadian points of interest are many of the Clifton Hill and surrounding attractions around Niagara Falls. Inside shots are credited as being filmed in Guelph, Ontario.
Perhaps the most interesting element of this story is there is no direct distinction between either of the two abductors as mentioned one played by Henry Rollins and his co-conspirator. One has to listen carefully as their taunts come over the audio track from the dial up telephone to tell one from the other. Furthermore the plot wasn’t composed in fashion where it was necessary to reveal the motives of the abduction. A certain degree of respect goes to the script writer and director for relenting the temptation to adapt to typical abduction themed movies and the predictable fanfare that is uncovered as a result.
A surprise twist upon the final climax will render many awe-struck. Certainly not cut from the predictable cloth, the director moves the very last scene to an unshakable sensation of desperation.
In The House of Flies may not necessarily be a thinker long after the final credits will role. Rest assured viewers will be tempted to sleep with the lights on and possibly double check the locks before turning in at night. If you’re looking for something a little different that threatens to burst free from many of the genres border-lined saturation, this may be a welcome excursion for you.
-Three and a half out of five tombstones