Haunted Honeymoon

Film Review: Home Sweet Home (2013)

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SYNOPSIS:

A young married couple comes home from a date night to discover that they are imprisoned in their own house with a methodical killer inside.

REVIEW:

Jeez, where do I begin here?

ok well, I would like to begin by saying that I didn’t HATE this film. There are a lot of good things I can say about it…and I will…but I digress…
Let me lay out the premise for you. A typical rural home, in some outlying, isolated province. This weird guy walks in and right away you know he’s up to no good. Maybe it’s the fact that the camera refuses to show his face, or it could be the latex gloves on his hands, or maybe the “abduction kit” black bags he carries in with him. Can’t put my finger on it, but something is definately wrong here.

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Eventually the family who actually live in the house come home and well…yea, he’s totally up to no good.

I can’t say much more than that without giving away the plot twists and surprises in the story. If you have the stamina to sit through this thing, I don’t want it ruined for you.

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So what did I like about it? Mainly, the things I enjoyed are technical in nature. The cinematographer, Nicolas Massart, really shot a visually stunning film. The lighting…the angles…it was all very “real” feeling. The set was lit in a way that it looked like the lighting of a real home. It just seemed very organic and natural, not bright or glaring in the corners. When it was close, it was truly claustrophobic. When it needed to be open, it was big as all outdoors. I looked up Mr. Massart on IMDB. His listings were mainly French language productions that I have no familiarity with, but that I may check out to see more of his work.

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I also appreciated the special effects, what there was of them. There is some gore in this film, kids. Not a lot, which is ok because it is used wisely. The gore moments are few and far between, but very well executed. I can appreciate good looking screen blood. The effects team, James Sled & Seth Rossman (A Little Bit Zombie), Olivier Afonso (Goal of the Dead), and Ginger Martini (I love your name, hon…never change it) really brought their best to this gig. The effects are not over the top, or unrealistic. Really suberbly done.

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Then there is the cast. This is a focused character study, and there are only three actors on screen. But they have very interesting pedigrees. The husband Frank is played by Adam MacDonald, who played rocknroll bass player Rick Savage in “Hysteria:The Def Leppard Story”. His wife is played by Meghan Heffern, an alumni of the American Pie film series. And our particularly creepy up-to-no-good home invader is played by Shaun Benson, notably appearing in K-19:The Widowmaker with Harrison Ford.

And it gets stranger than that. There are a few “fly by” characters, such as the neighborhood secuirty gaurd played by Marty Adams, who had a small role in Repo:The Genetic Opera. And the mother-in-law with no name, represented in the film by way of answer machine messages, is voiced by Barbara Gordon. She was the animal trainer for the film Being John Malkovich.

oh..and there is a cat. Critters the Cat, played by a lovely Tabby named Lancelot. He doesn’t appear to have an IMDB listing other than this film, but he’s a talent to watch. He’ll do great things. Just wait and see.

The entire story takes place inside this home. The three main characters all enter it, and all the events play out in one room or another. The nature of this sort of “home invasion” story has been seen before, in films like The Strangers or A Clockwork Orange. There are also elements of “torture” films such as Hostel and Saw. The story is focused on the characters, but no one’s motivation is ever explained.

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I would like, at this time, to paraphrase a quote from Alfred Hitchcock concerning suspense. Something about a bomb under the table and everyone knows its there but the characters, and as the audience waits for it to go boom, that is suspense.

The writer/director of this film, David Morley, was trying to take that quote to heart, I think. Unfortunately he took WAY too long in the set up. It was almost 35 minutes into the film before anything interesting happened. Then it was gone, and another 30 minutes went by. It was the most sadistic game of “red light/green light” I have ever had the misfortune to play.

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“Hey look something is happening!” “Oh never mind…it’s done now.”

Honestly, if I had found this film on Netflix (and I wasn’t reviewing it), I would have probably turned it off in the first 15 minutes. Slow doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I think I see what the director was trying to do by drawing out the opening, making us try to figure out exactly what was going on and where it would lead. But after 20 minutes I was seriously bored and didn’t even care anymore. I forced myself to keep watching, and once things got started I was glad I did. But oh man…that long slow crawl to something interesting was a killer. And the film keeps doing it, over and over again.
Red light. AUGH!!

so frustrating.

Looking at Mr. Morley’s IMDB, it would appear that short features have been his main work before this film. I honestly think this film might have been better served as a 20 – 30 minute short feature, instead of a feature length film. Streamline a lot of that “red light” time and still have room for suspense and drama.

There is a lot to commend about this production. I appreciate the director’s vision and I think I can see the story he was trying to tell. I just felt like, for me anyway, it just didn’t translate the way he expected it would to the audience.

I’m sure this film will find its audience. All films do eventually. I know how hard it is to make an indie film and I wish them luck in finding that audience.

As for me, on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being awesome), I can only give this film 2 bloody pawprints.

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