[Fantastic Fest Review] 'There's Someone Inside Your House' is a Child of 'Scream' that Struggles to Walk
“Sometimes it’s easier to be ourselves around strangers than our own friends…”
That’s because with strangers, we tend not to care about disappointing them. Hurting them. Making them angry. But with friends, we try to avoid all of that, and so we often wear a mask to hide how we truly feel about something. Ironic, isn’t it? Only in director Patrick Brice’s (Creep) new slasher, There’s Someone Inside Your House, which just premiered at Fantastic Fest, the killer sports a mask representing the face we try to hide from the most: our own.
Written by Henry Gayden (Shazam!) and based on the novel by Stephanie Perkins, There’s Someone Inside Your House centers around teen Makani (Sydney Park) and her group of friends. Each of them has their secrets, and once a killer begins slicing and dicing their way through the graduating class, those secrets begin to come out in ways that threaten their relationships…and their lives.
Cue that bum-bum-bum chord.
Brice smashed onto the scene with Creep in 2014, delivering a found footage terror that was uniquely terrifying and deeply unsettling. Unfortunately, There’s Someone Inside Your House is neither of those things. In fact, it’s no more flavorful than stale popcorn in desperate need of melty, buttery goodness.
Though things do start strong in this teen horror slasher, at least.
There’s Someone Inside Your House opens on a home in a desolate cornfield, where we meet asshole jock Jackson (Markian Tarasiuk), who we don’t get to know long before a killer shows up in a black hoodie wearing a mask that looks eerily like Jackson’s own face before brutally slaying him, surrounded by photos of an awful deed committed by the football-aholic. The kill is vicious, satisfying, and the killer’s Jackson-mask is guaranteed to send a gust of spine-tingling chills down the audiences back.
We then meet Makani and friends at school, including Alex (Asjha Cooper), Darby (Jesse LaTourette), Zach (Dale Whibley) and Rodrigo (Diego Josef), as well as creepy ex Oliver (Theodore Pellerin) watching Makani from across the lunchroom. Ah, true love. The group is a refreshing cast of diverse characters that is wonderful to see, especially for teens searching for themselves in the genre. But while that’s the more modern element of There’s Someone Inside Your House—how sad is it that it’s modern just to actually have a diverse cast?—this is also where the film begins to cement itself as an uninspired knockoff of its slasher elders.
Reminiscent of Scream, the group sits around contemplating and joking about Jackson’s death, the killer, etc. Some of the cast even feel directly inspired by characters from Scream (though I won’t say who for fear of spoiling). Not to mention, Oliver’s “definitely a psychopath” vibe and the deep, dark secret that haunts our main protagonist, Makani. All of that is fine, by the way, it’s just that the obvious inspirations are so obvious that There’s Someone Inside Your House starts to feel less like its own film, and more of a bare-bones script following the Scream blueprint.
One benefit of all of that though is that Brice recognizes how closely There’s Someone Inside Your House follows the slasher tropes handbook and uses that to subvert audience expectations. There’s enough red herrings in There’s Someone Inside Your House to make Agatha Christie proud. But that isn’t to say that every twist is all that surprising. There’s Someone Inside Your House struggles to shock the audience as much as poor Tatum struggled with that doggie door. It leans so far into familiarity that it gets stuck there.
Outside of that opening scene, the film also fails to get the heartrate racing. The kills are ultra-bloody, fun, and mostly satisfying, but are undercut by silly extremes that don’t fit the tone. Brice employs goofy humor here and there like a bunch of jocks singing at a memorial for Jackson and wishing him all of the fireballs in Heaven, but There’s Someone Inside Your House takes itself so seriously, that the absurdity of the killer boldly attacking someone in the middle of a party with everyone running around like chickens with their heads cut off doesn’t belong on the same shelf.
And that’s the problem. There’s Someone Inside Your House is obsessed with making a point that it ultimately fumbles.
What starts as a fun, thrilling, bloody slasher devolves into an emotionally hollow attempt at getting us to care for characters we barely know, turning all of the attention on Mekani and the secret she’s trying to hide while losing focus of the killings almost entirely. There’s a heavy theme of hiding secrets from friends, to the point where Zach even hosts a literal “secret party” where the idea is to tell secrets—lame—yet few if any have any real impact on the story overall. The killer is also so focused on (mostly) targeting people that the group doesn’t associate with, which results in many of Makani’s friends falling into the background.
There’s Someone Inside Your House has a message. It wants to talk about the inner self we hide and hide from, with the “someone” inside our house, that stranger, being ourselves. To the filmmaker’s credit, that message resonates in key moments. But between a lack of our main group outside of Makani being put in any danger, uninteresting motives from the villain (or villains), and jarring tonal shifts that switch between campy slasher and melodramatic teen drama, There’s Someone Inside Your House is a Scream baby that can’t quite figure out how to walk.
There's Someone Inside Your House comes to Netflix on October 6th.
By Matt Konopka