The Perfect House (2012/14)

Anthologies. They seem to be the latest market efficiency in horror. Easy to produce collaborative efforts that usually result in the whole being lesser than the some of their parts. And while the latest round of anthologies can certainly boast some strong efforts, for every V/H/S 2 there seems to be 10 Creepshow 3's. To call the anthology offerings being served up a crap shoot would be kind to both crapping and shooting. The Perfect House is a bit of of a deviation from the anthology in that it's not the result of a collaborative effort to bring together different film makers to tell stories linked by a loosely based wraparound narrative. Instead The Perfect House is written and co-directed by Kris Hulbert, one man, one vision...but is it any good? Let's take a look.

The film opens curiously with the beginning of the third segment. I can only assume this is to show the audience that stars Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp) and John Philbin (Return of The Living Dead) are actually in the film. Other than that there really is no reason to start the film there and then lead into the wraparound segments. It's just one of many curious choices the film makers make in The Perfect House.

The wraparound segments are really nothing special but they are at least effective in introducing the three segments. Essentially, there s a house for sale. A couple wants to look at it. The sexy realtor hits on the guy, he reciprocates. It's odd. They hit the basement and the segments begin.

The first and strongest segment of the film concerns a family driven downstairs by a powerful storms and the resulting family dynamics that boil to the surface once the lights go out. It gets off to an awkward start, but gels by the end into a pretty slick little Tales From The Crypt episode. Nice visuals and a pretty good performance from the kids highlight this extremely clever statement.

Segment two, in which a man (Johnathan Teirstan, Sleepaway Camp) captures and murders folks in the houses basement all while one of his captives is kept alive tries to be a lot of different things but unfortunately comes up sort in most of them. Starting with the positive, the one thing that really drives the segment and really saves it from becoming lowest common denominator trash is the performance of Teirstan. He does what's commonly referred to in the sports world as "making everyone around him better." The words sound better, the other folks he acts with get better, it's the best performance in the film. Now for the bad. The short tries to be a dark comedy. It tries to be social commentary. It tries to be meta to a certain extent. Unfortunately, it isn't really good at doing any of this and just feels mean spirited. Check out segment number two for Tierstans performance if nothing else.

I mentioned the lowest common denominator factor briefly in the second segment. If you want to see it in full effect, dial up the third segment of The Perfect House. The continuation of the dinner party that curiously kicked off the film is one of the meanest things I've ever seen...and I sat through Captivity. One mans seemingly unjustified revenge only stands as a testament as to why you should return your neighbors tools after borrowing them. Perhaps there is something else going on here, but it's impossible to see under the sheath of fratricide, impending rape, and other nasties perpetrated on an innocent family. I'm a big fan of pushing the envelope, hell, one of my favorite films is the original Last House on The Left, and there is nothing nastier than that film. But that film, despite the overt griminess on it's surface is, at it's heart biting social commentary. The third segment of The Perfect House may have some underlying message but I'll be damned if I can find it.

Overall, there is some redeeming value in The Perfect House. The first segment is clearly the best, and something every fan of the Twilight Zone or Tales From the Darkside should check out. After that though, it's really grasping at straws to find anything substantive. Kudos to writer/director Kris Hulbert for trying some different things with The Perfect House. It's a shame many of those different things don't work. There is enough here to see he has talent, unfortunately it's not all on display here, perhaps next time.

** stars out of *****

As always...thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich"

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