In case I haven’t mentioned it before, Shudder is a godsend in terms of a streaming service. Between curating great previous films and franchises and shows (Channel Zero, I urge you to give a watch) but they also have original content and The Beach House is the latest great addition to their already stacked catalogue.
This is the feature film debut of Jeffrey A. Brown who previously worked on dozens of films as a location manager. He’s written and directed two short films prior to this. It’s a testament to his work as a location manager to have found a way to make beach houses, a small town, and a beach be absolutely terrifying. While we’re all dealing with COVID and the heatwave that currently is attacking Toronto, swimming in those waters is something that instinctively, we would love to do. But when we see one of the characters walking into the water, we beg him to stop and turn back.
The Beach House follows Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) a couple that has had issues and goes to Randall’s family beach house during the off-season to reconnect. In a strange coincidence, friends of Randall’s father also are staying at the house at the same time. They have dinner and spend the evening together in what could be a sweet sentiment and experience. But there’s something definitely strange about their surroundings.
Going through a small town like this one during “off-season” without a doubt will always be eerie. Right from the very beginning, the film brought me this intense dread like I haven’t felt from a film in a long time. It reminds me a bit of Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space. Which is to say, The Beach House is super Lovecraftian. There is always something that is hard to understand and explain, but it’s there and it’s otherworldly, and it’s frankly just creepy.
At one point during dinner, Emily talks about how she wants to study astrobiology. She talks about life on earth and life on other planets. It’s where chemistry, becomes biology. This moment sets up the rest of the film. By having her talk about how organisms can adapt based on their strange surroundings, it allows the rest of the film feels completely plausible. By giving us some form of explanation and bringing us into the film’s logic, they have the ability to believe in the rest of the film.
This film is another great example of what you don’t know or see, is scarier. And that includes what might be hiding in the water, or what might mutate based on their environment. Sometimes survival of the fittest could be used to describe something Lovecraftian.
The Beach House can be found on Shudder starting tomorrow (July 9th) and with their promo code SHUTIN (that gives you free 30-day trial), you have no excuse why you shouldn’t watch it tomorrow.