What to Watch Verdict
'There's Someone Inside Your House' is a Molotov cocktail that's filled with all the poisons that infect smaller American towns, which stages a cutthroat modern slasher with gleeful graveness.
👺 Delivers on kills
👺 Utilizes the horror of nowhere towns well
👺 Clean and thoughtful shot selection
👺 Characters we care about
👺 Serves situations over the bigger picture at times
👺 Clichés are alive and well (might bother some)
👺 Ending feels a bit abrupt
Patrick Brice’s slasher adaptation There’s Someone Inside Your House could snugly fit into the '90s subgenre boom post-Scream when teenage wasteland slashers were all the rage. Kill sequences are gory, social commentary is thorned and performances are neatly groomed — it’s chaotically composed across the board.
Stephanie Perkins’ novel lays the red-blooded foundation of rural community whispers and deadly secrets that screenwriter Henry Gayden treats as the next Woodsboro (the small town from Scream). From corporate moguls who devour townsfolk’s property for cornfield expansion to rumors about sociopathic classmates who’ve done nothing but endured tragic loss, There’s Someone Inside Your House is always about an Americana microcosm where toxicity breeds. How else can unchecked privilege, targeted oppression and under-your-nose bloodshed thrive?
Sydney Park stars as Hawaiian transplant Makani Young, who found herself a rebellious friend group that operates outside cliques. The brutal death of football star Jackson (Markian Tarasiuk) instigates theories around Osborne High — a killer who wears three-dimensional printed masks of the victims is on the loose, and no one has answers.
Makani and her crew eye Makani’s “creeper” ex-fling Oliver (Théodore Pellerin) as the culprit, but motivations begin to mount elsewhere when Osborne High’s villain starts publicly leaking personal secrets. Alex (Asjha Cooper), Rodrigo (Diego Josef), Zach (Dale Whibley) and Darby (Jesse LaTourette) have nothing to fear so long as their confessions are truthful — no skeletons in closets, no problems.
The Midwestern town surrounding Osborne High reeks of Anywhere, USA, seclusion that tangles the bored and the self-important in its homespun web. I mention Scream and Woodsboro because There’s Someone Inside Your House does well to define the dismissiveness and frustration that pulsates outside high school cafeterias — Zach’s constantly washing away obscene graffiti thanks to his father’s ruthless business operations that mark him a public enemy.
Unleashing a killer in corn mazes or down locker-lined hallways sketches a basic horror template, but Brice sees more in the subgenre. Performative good-girls who record anonymous white supremacy podcasts or silver-spooners who claim themselves as victims. Plastic recreations of each target’s facial details are morbid mockery — themes that cleverly and furiously rage against the transformative covers people wear throughout their everyday lives.
Brice’s approach to violence keeps executions cutthroat (literally), ruthless and soaked in gratuitous gore. There’s Someone Inside Your House is one of the more merciless slashers of late when it comes to characters meeting grim fates, as a hunting knife slices Achilles tendons only a few minutes into showtime. There’s no softening afterward, either. Brice recreates the gut-punch axe swing of Creep time and time again as Osborne’s hooded villain slams agape mouths onto shiny blades and hangs mutilated funeral helpers from rafters — purified religious garments stained a sickly and sticky red.
There’s Someone Inside Your House is expressively nasty as the graphic nature of slasher massacres continues to strike with intensity, fitting the Fear Street mantra of Haddonfields or Shadysides causing the death of those who can’t escape. In subgenre terms, that’s a home run.
Horror cinema sometimes suffers from misinformed filmmaking mindsets that believe audiences only care about splatter, disgusting practical effects and characters becoming mere chophouse fodder. There’s Someone Inside Your House endears students stuck navigating cruel fates, twisted lies and the limitations of their birthplaces. Gayden’s script works to keep audiences guessing about suspects, and actors do their part to conceal the evil mastermind.
These are “flawed” characters with purpose — the pill addict, the abusive hazer, the accidental criminal — as performances strive to declare the imminent dangers of uninformed perception. These are sons and daughters, best friends and compassionate lovers who we care about further than basic survival instincts — the outcasts and forgotten before they ever had their chance.
Oddly enough, there’s a punctuation of hope tacked onto a pain-stricken and grim-as-gravestones finale that aims crosshairs at repulsive aggressions since mobilized across the nation. There are direct shots at law enforcement and false allies like fangs to a throat, yet also representation in thoughtful areas like football jocks who are more than their energy drink accessories. Brice walks a line of commentary and advancement that is reflexively authentic, and characters pop between the cringeworthiness of maturation and sometimes heartbreaking influence of their suburbia environment.
There’s Someone Inside Your House is an energetic, piercing brand of slasher revival that drags the "outdated" subgenre into a more modern nightmare. There’s a lot to like, even if style sometimes outweighs substance as the killer evades capture once or twice despite insurmountable odds. It’s no bother, as Patrick Brice lights cornfields ablaze and toys around with high school trends that value their characters as real people, never soulless lambs to his killer’s slaughter. Solid deaths, solid performances and solid killer conceptualization — that’s worth a recommendation.
You can watch There's Someone Inside Your House on Netflix when it premieres on Oct. 6.
Matt Donato is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic who stays up too late typing words for What To Watch, IGN, Paste, Bloody Disgusting, Fangoria and countless other publications. He is a member of Critics Choice and co-hosts a weekly livestream with Perri Nemiroff called the Merri Hour. You probably shouldn't feed him after midnight, just to be safe.
Thank you for signing up to Whattowatch. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.