[Fantastic Fest 2021 Review] ‘There’s Someone Inside Your House’ feels refreshing, if not subdued

Fear Street, I Know What You Did Last Summer (2021), and Scream (2022) are evidence of this current slasher resurgence, and There’s Someone Inside You House looks to keep the young blood flowing. Based on the novel of the same name by Stephanie Perkins, this neo-slasher follows the grisly murder spree of one mysterious, multi-masked assailant in a small Nebraskan town. The deaths are not random; someone is targeting specific individuals based on how scandalous their innermost secrets are. And for one resident, she would rather die than let her greatest shame be broadcast.

Wants to do things closer to the old-fashioned way

There’s Someone Inside Your House breaks slasher protocol and kills a male in the opening scene; a football player and bully is brutally murdered in his own home. Everyone is then on high alert after another victim is claimed. The linking element among these crimes is the targets had deep, dark secrets they did not want to get out. While everyone else shares the skeletons in their closet in hopes they will be immune to the killer’s M.O., Makani Young (Sydney Park) remains a closed book about the tragic event that brought her to Osborne. Her silence only draws the murderer closer, though.

Director Patrick Brice and screenwriter Henry Gayden are not reinventing the slasher with There’s Someone Inside Your House. That is why this movie feels a lot more subdued than others of its kind coming out today. It is earnest and direct, and not mindful of the genre it hails from. This movie is more focused on telling the story as it is without any winks or smirks along the way. This new age of slashers is far less cynical than its nearest ancestors, who assembled their personalities based on their ability to be irreverent and self-aware. There’s Someone Inside Your House instead wants to do things closer to the old-fashioned way with only occasional subversions and tweaks.

Slasher characters do not usually come pre-loaded with a lot of depth. A gist of personality is typically enough to sate the spectators who either want a sympathetic survivor or some entertaining fodder. Makani and her friends, who as a whole are more diverse than the slasher casts of yesteryear, make up for the outworn story. Their rapport seems genuine. Not every character is afforded the same screen time or growth, but they do feel more well-rounded than the usual lot of victims in these movies.

“Not up to par with the greats”

The mystery itself, on the other hand, is not up to par with the greats. The killer’s motivation lacks creativity, and when it comes time to their unmasking, there is no gasp of surprise or chance of infamy down the line. There is a curious message in their madness that never gets the attention it quite deserves. As the antagonist lets out a death rattle, there is this inevitable, nagging regret on the viewer’s part. The script should have done more in regards to the villain’s motives and conception; they are just as important as the victims in slashers. The whodunit aspect here is undercooked, and it is much too forgettable.

An undiluted, serious approach is the biggest asset found here. A cast of distinct and fairly likable characters helps more than hurts in the long run as well. The basic story never reaches great heights or delivers exceptional thrills, even though there is cursory entertainment here and there. While it is easy to compare this to the admittedly more unique slashers before it, There’s Someone Inside Your House at the very least does everything on its own terms. It is not capitalizing on nostalgia or trapped in the past.

There’s Someone Inside Your House premiered at Fantastic Fest 2021.

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