In The House of Flies
directed by Gabriel Carrer
starring Ryan Kotack, Lindsay Smith, Henry Rollins
Black Fawn Distribution
Heather (Lindsay Smith) and Steve (Ryan Kotack) are a cute couple. He’s twenty-something, she’s bit pregnant, but they seem stable and entry-level middle class. But bad things happen to good people and they end up imprisoned in a basement with no food, no water, a dial telephone and a bunch of locked suitcases. Who did this to them? The Voice (Henry Rollins). Why? Because. He calls them every day to torture them; if he can get them to do horrid things like eat a rat or punch each other in the gut he lets them unlock a suitcase for another useless prize. Once that’s a gun and a bullet: will they commit suicide? Or shoot the lock off a suitcase? They don’t seem able to decide. Will The Voice show his face? Can’t the use the dial phone to call 911? Oh, yeah. Reasons. You know.
While I can say I enjoyed this psychological thriller, it was intense and the torture kept me engaged for nearly the full 90 minutes. Kotack seemed honorable and principled and willing to sacrifice himself for his wife, but in the time he took to punch through a concrete wall with the butt of the gun he could have punched the lock off a suitcase. Both Smith and Kotack are believable and well-cast for their roles, and you are pulling for them throughout their ordeal. Still, the movie is more interesting visually and as a story, there are long periods of little happening; this gives us a sense of their stasis in the cellar, but it also prolongs our agony. Henry Rollins is dry and computer-like as he issues horrific commands to the couple, there no clue as to his motivation other than sheer psycho meanness.
An extensive 45 minute “Making of” accompanies this film; it’s a good primer for the budding film maker on set design, lighting, post-processing and makeup. I won’t say it’s more interesting than the film itself, but this sort of horror bothers me more than it entertains me, and it was nice to slide behind the camera and hang with the crew. They all seem very professional and destined to great careers. This is a tense, brutal film that exploits our inner fears more than visual crossness for effect. Moral? Stay out of creepy guys basements.