The set up for All Through the House is right out of an 80's b-movie slasher playbook. Hot girls, little clothing. Deranged dude dressed as Santa. Throw it all in a blender and you get 9 out of 10 Christmas themed slasher films. Nunes however, pushes the box sufficiently in enough directions, allowing obvious influences from other franchises to creep in, to keep the narrative fairly fresh and original. He laces in a little Friday the 13th, a dash of Halloween, and some heavy handed Sleepaway Camp homages, to spice things up a bit.
While the nostalgia in the film will almost certainly be the thing that gets you to push the purchase button on the remote, be aware that there is a lot more going on in All through the House then simple stalk and slash. After falling into certain slasher film cliches through the films first two acts, it's in the films third act where the film is elevated from also ran, run of the mill slasher, to something significantly better. He is able to coalesce the seeds he's planted throughout the first two acts to do something that is rarely done in independent slashers - he world builds. Suddenly, there is a sense of who these folks are, instead of seeing them as canon fodder, they are actual characters with purpose. It adds a layer not normally found in these types of films.
Now, that shouldn't take anything away from the fact that All Through the House is a hardcore 80's slasher through and through. From the first five minutes of the film through the end credits card, Nunes goes all out to up the films kill and gore quotient. Nunes uses only practical effects to deliver his mayhem and madness, most of which comes via a well sharpened pair of hedge clippers. The blood is copious, the kills are certainly satisfactory, if not terribly inventive (if you've seen The Burning, you've seen some of this before) but the kills don't need to re-invent the wheel, just bloody it up a bit. And yes, although the third act can get a bit heady, there is plenty of cannon fodder here to sufficiently pad out the kill count.
If there was one glaring weakness in All Through the House it would have to be the inconsistent levels of the performances. Now, I know much of a performance can be made in editing, but there is far too much variance from scene to scene in the acting to not point it out. For those of you well versed in watching independent film, you will be used to this, but for those of you looking for Dames Helen Mirren and Judy Dench, you will be left wanting. I'd also be remiss if I didn't point out one particular scene where the final girl hides behind a rock, the killer runs into frame, stops, looks around and runs back out in the same direction. It's like a Wiley E Coyote routine and pretty hilarious. It's nitpicking, but it's Dreadworld and we are kind of assholes...loving assholes...but still assholes.
All Through the House is a surprising film in many ways. Nunes could have just rested on the nostalgic 80's feel or the Santa gimmick, but he makes the film much more. He weaves in some of the Krampus legend. He creates three dimensional characters. He takes a familiar twist and gives it more depth and heart than it has any right to have. On the other hand, Nunes knows why you are pushing that purchase button and infuses the film with enough of the fun party elements to make sure you can enjoy the film with your friends and some beers without having to thing too hard. The kills are excellent, the blood is ample, the breasts...well they are ample too. And it has good friend of the site Jessica Cameron! How could you go wrong?
**** stars out of *****
The film is now available for streaming on Amazon as part of their Prime program and probably available everywhere else you can watch things digitally. Also, Nunes and Co. will be stopping by Dark Delicacies in Burbank later this month to sign copies of the film, so make sure you west coasters check that out.
That's it for me...as always...Thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich"