Friday, December 29, 2017

December to Dismember: ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE (2015)

After nearly a solid month of Xmas stinkers, you can hardly blame us for feeling like Bob Crachit on a bender, and wanting to kick Tiny Tim's crutches out from under him. Fortunately for us, we have been visited by some SOV ghosts that may not have driven us down MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947), but more like Miracle on Ice (1980). Bruised but victorious against all odds. Yes, that's right, we have finally found something to like about modern Christmas movies (I say "we" because Will got one too). It ain't much, but I'll take it.

We open with a bunch of obnoxious kids wrecking someone's Santa mannequin on their front lawn. A pair of bare feet pad up, the owner of which is unseen, grabs the Santa mask used in the display and a random pair of hedge clippers that are, for no apparent reason, stuck in the lawn right next to the mannequin. So, someone left a mask and a sharp garden tool next to each other? Out in the open? Don't these people watch horror movies? That is straight up irresponsible.

Next thing we know, Santa is making some front-door visits (fuck all that sneaking in the chimney shit) to a variety of neighbors in the 'hood. And when I say "variety", I mean there are a lot of chesty women between the ages of 25 and 30 in this part of town. Maybe there's a strip-club somewhere down the block. The first stop gets a white trash mom and 8 year old son out of  (the same) bed to answer the door. After seeing Santa on the doorstep, the son promptly falls asleep on the sofa and mom finding nobody on the doorstep goes to take a shower. Both perfectly normal reactions. This gives our Santa the opportunity to use his brand spankin' new shears on mom in the shower. Ala PSYCHO, right? No, more like ala Franco, as he stabs her in the boob for starters. Santa's got issues.

Enter Rachel (Ashley Mary Nunes), a young woman who has dropped by the 'hood to visit her sailor-mouthed, hard-drinking, wheel-chair bound grandma who ends up coming off less like Betty White and more like an ex-biker skag. Rachel's other reason for visiting is to help her over-enthusiastic neighbor, Mrs. Garrett (Melynda Kiring) decorate her already Christmas overkill house. Little do they know that Mrs. Garrett has got some extra nuts in her fruitcake as Mrs. G carries on heated conversations with the various mannequins she has dressed up in festive Christmas garb and, as the girls discover, has another one in her bed!

We also get a hot lesbian couple who, just like in real life, apparently love the color purple and novelizations of old horror movies. Then there is straight couple who are about to bang a gong until the girl asks if the guy wants to get "adventurous". At this point I was afraid that large rubber novelties would be making an appearance, but no, she just wants to cuff his hands to the bed. Whee! Adventure! This of course give her the opportunity to leave the room so that Santa can come in and snip off his bouche de noel. For those keeping score at home, this makes a total of two weencapitations. Don't worry, this will all make sense if you watch the movie. As does the shot of Santa swiping a vibrator after impaling a showering hottie. Isn't that what we all want to do on Christmas? Come to think of it, people seem to do a lot of nocturnal showering in this neighborhood.

Rachel grabs a couple of her over-privileged (and young, and busty) friends, Sarah (Danica Riner) and Gia (Natalie Montera) to help her decorate Mrs. G's house while Mrs. G heads out on a date, which she assures them is strictly platonic. Hmmmm... wait a minute... is this a - what's it called? A "plot"? I've heard about those, but you'd never know it from what we've been watching this month. Yep, something creepy is going on with Mrs. G. She once had a daughter who nobody knows what happened to, and a husband who apparently has been in the slams for the past 15 years. What happened to the daughter? Why did the husband end up in prison? All of this comes together in an admittedly derivative, but surprisingly well thought out, climax and finale.

Written and directed by Todd Nunes, this appears to be Todd Nunes' second "feature" made with family and friends (Ashley Mary Nunes is his sister). It also appears to be the only one that has been released. For a semi-first timer, Nunes manages to impress. In Santa's spree around the 'burb, it feels a bit like yet another Santa stalker with some randomly strung together attacks. While fairly gory, they clearly are trying to stay within the realm of an '80s slasher movie. That said, when we get into the second half of the movie, we start getting a some stylish camerawork, effective nighttime lighting and is able to overcome some of the residual video look to create some impressive atmosphere. It's pretty amazing as this is the opposite of what usually happens with these low-renters.

While most of the acting is of what you'd expect from a low-level SOV DTV entry film, there are two stand-outs. Melynda Kiring, who plays Mrs. Garrett, may be a little over the top at times, but is nicely effective. Then we get side character, Cody (Jason Ray Schumacher), Rachel's whiny ex-boyfriend who keeps popping up and annoys the audience just as much as it annoys Rachel. (slight spoiler) In an irritating cliche, he is needed to help rescue Rachel at the end, even though it is totally unnecessary and having Rachel save herself from the psycho Santa would have been much more satisfying.

ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE, like CHRISTMAS WITH THE DEAD (2012), though different in tone, is another example of a movie that, in another day and age, really could have had a solid indy production, shot on film with quality actors, and become something of a cult classic. While Nunes definitely has some growing to do as a filmmaker, this one still gets more than enough right to make me look forward to his next movie. Reportedly just starting pre-production, the movie is titled DEATH WARD 13, which co-stars the one and only Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, which should be interesting in and of itself. It seems a bit ambitious, and a bit over-done, with a '70s mental hospital setting, but hopefully it will be a step up in production value with another solid story. In the end, with these SOV DTV flicks, you really can't really ask for much more than that.

2 Reactions:

  1. I don't mean to correct you, Thomas; but I think the word you were looking for is "dickcapitations." I've loved this month's journey through the colon of Christmas cheer. Some great writing from you gentlemen.

  2. Ha! Thanks for the correction, glad you enjoyed our suffering!


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