Starring: Lindsay Smith, Ryan Kotack, Henry Rollins and Ryan Barrett
Written by Angus McLellan
Directed by Gabriel Carrer
Making its World Premiere as part of the Inaugural Fright Nights: Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival this past weekend at Toronto’s Projection Booth East cinema is the newest film from Canadian director Gabriel Carrer (Kill, If a Tree Falls), In the House of Flies. The micro budget indie makes use of a small cast and minimal settings to create a suspense thriller about abduction, suffering and sacrifice. But will In the House of Flies be the film to catapult Carrer onto the world stage?
Set in June of 1988 In the House of Flies tells the story of young lovers whose lives are inadvertently changed forever when the couple, Heather (Smith) and Steve (Kotack), suddenly find themselves abducted. Alone, isolated, locked in a basement with only a tiny window as contact to the outside world, Heather and Steve find themselves pawns in the twisted machinations of their diabolical hosts. Surrounded by several mysterious pad-locked suitcases, each containing valuable food and supplies, Heather and Steve must fight to keep their sanity and clutch with blistering hands the last shreds of hope if they want to escape from their abductors (Rollins and Barrett).
In the House of Flies uses its limited budget to its advantage in producing a grimy, sleazy and claustrophobic story mainly set in the confines of a completely walled in basement with a locked trap door as it only entrance and exit. The film lies solely on the shoulders of Smith and Kotack as they are in every frame of the film and for 90% of it they are the only ones on screen. Rollins is only heard in voice and Barrett is only seen from the neck down, never close up. The good news is that Smith and Kotack are up to the task. Their performances are solid and they keep you invested throughout. Rollins’ voice is nearly unrecognizable as he serves as tormentor over a phone placed in the cell.
The script uses its surroundings aptly, keeping the action centered in the basement keeps the budget low and production value high. That said this film is not one of action set pieces and momentum. This is a slow methodical devaluing and deconstruction of these characters. This inevitably leaves us with lulls in areas and some stretches of the film do drag. But when these sequences happen, Carrer, McLellan and the cast manage to snap you back into the film with another well placed revelation. In the House of Flies is a film that will need and demand investment from its viewers, and if you are not prepared to give the alert attention required you may be lost along the way.
One of the most pleasant highlights of the film is the excellent score and soundtrack. There is a screamingly obvious influence from last year’s Drive in the way the music is staged and used in the film, and the song choices follow those of Drive in tone and influence. That said Drive had one of the best soundtracks of the last decade so if you are going to use an influence like this, why not the best? The songs used are killer and would make an excellent companion to the Drive soundtrack on any MP3 player. Sadly I believe the filmmakers missed a great opportunity in not making the soundtrack available to the public after the screening, or if it was it wasn’t advertised strongly enough.
Is In the House of Flies the film that we have been waiting for to launch the ‘new wave’ of Canadian Horror and the careers of people like Carrer? Perhaps it will be, but it’s more than likely another stepping stone to get towards that goal. In the House of Flies is more likely to go down as a film that shows a burgeoning talent make giant steps towards the film that will eventually break him to the world. Either way In the House of Flies is a recommend.
Till Next Time,
Movie Junkie TO
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