Streaming platforms in October are like an advent calendar to me. Nearly every day, I’ve feverishly hopped from Netflix to Hulu to Shudder, looking for what new Halloween-triggered movies and series were released. Both the highly anticipated V/H/S/94 and There’s Someone Inside Your House competed for my attention with the same drop date, but I decided to start with the latter since more people have Netflix than Shudder.
Most teen-pointed movies of any kind give me pause. More often than not, they have dialogue clearly written by people one or two generations older who seem to think kids exclusively speak in acronyms, bullies shout out cheesy quips down crowded hallways, and that girls always have orgasms the first time they have sex. And lately, writers feel the need to inject as much baseline “wokeness” as possible into every scene, rather than assembling a diverse cast and production team or just using inclusive language in a way that’s subtle and not awkwardly dropped in.
But There’s Someone Inside Your House (written by Henry Gayden) is directed by Patrick Brice, who not only makes the cut as a millennial—and therefore is still within reaching distance of Gen Z—but whose portfolio contains the deliciously disturbing Creep and Creep 2. While his latest venture isn’t scary per se, it’s packed with suspense and all the gore one expects to find in the slasher genre.
The film wastes no time with its standard opening scene kill, but this time, the argyle-sweater-wearing Drew Barrymore is replaced by a football star who committed a brutal transgression he swore nobody but his team knew about. Just before he dies, he catches a glimpse of his killer’s face—his own. What better metaphor for “you brought this on yourself” than a 3D-rendered mask in your own likeness? Thus begins a spree of murders, focused solely on teenagers in small town Nebraska harboring problematic secrets.
Enter Makani (Sydney Park), a mixed-Hawaiian transfer student who hasn’t come clean to her friends about why she traded beaches for cornfields or that she is discreetly sleeping with Ollie, the 2021 version of a misfit goth kid that everyone is quick to blame for the gruesome attacks. (Black skinny jeans, buzz cut, and no eyeliner or lipstick to be seen.)
Makani is a complex character. She’s got a heavy load of trauma, not to mention brown skin, in a predominantly white, rural town. Her distrusting nature makes sense but her treatment of Ollie—who loves her poetry and takes her on blunt cruises to cheer up—is simply that of a fuckboi. And yet, as much as I found the majority of her behavior despicable, I had to remind myself that she’s an accurate portrayal of a teenage girl. I broke my fair share of hearts from caring too much what other people thought when I was sixteen. And for me, a serial killer wasn’t even a concern. We must give Makani our grace.
The title is something of a misnomer. Sure, our face-borrowing villain commits a couple household B&Es, but the majority of the film is spent in plenty of other disturbing locations, like a confessional booth or a corn maze. Brice’s adaptation comes from a book of the same name by Stephanie Perkins, where the moniker was more apt.
While Brice clearly does enjoy his opportunity to call out the politically radical right—a Christian girl whose “it’s not my fault some races have lower IQs” podcast episode plays loudly behind her body as it dangles from a church rafter—I think what I found the most effective was the twisting punch he packed into the killer’s motive. Privilege can be a truly horrifying thing.
Scare Meter: 😱