The 400-Word Review: The Beach House
By Sean Collier
July 10, 2020
Be careful who you’re isolated with.
That’s just one of the startlingly relevant morals to be found in “The Beach House,” a sun-bleached, visceral work of horror by first-time feature writer/director Jeffrey A. Brown. Brown has spent most of his career as a location manager, and that skill has transferred perfectly to his freshman effort. His setting is a remarkable collision of beauty and menace, as a quaint seaside town meets the apathy of the open ocean.
Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) are barely maintaining their relationship. They’re at the right age for decaying romance; they were undergrad sweethearts until he dropped out, and she’s bound for grad school. Arriving at his father’s New England cottage, he tries to convince her they should move to the seaside town year-round, dismissing her plans.
Before she can let this final cut convince her to dump the schlub, they discover they don’t have the house to themselves. Mitch (Jake Weber), a friend of Randall’s father, had asked to use the house for a few weeks. (Randall didn’t bother to check.) He and his wife Jane (Maryann Nagel) are unwinding and happy to welcome the younger couple in for an easygoing evening.
Until a luminous goo rises out of the sea and drives everyone to poisoned madness.
That’s not the half of it, and be warned: “The Beach House” will probably turn your stomach. Even devoted horror fans (like myself) will likely avert their eyes here and there; the film is a reminder that there is much more on Earth than we find palatable, and lots of it might kill us.
We are thus back at those startlingly relevant lessons. Along with an admonition about quarantine partners — Emily would have a much easier time surviving if she weren’t saddled with Randall — you can draw instructions about humility before nature and the unpredictability of microorganisms from “The Beach House.” The film was completed nearly two years ago, so this is not a COVID-19 cash-in; still, it feels almost prescient.
That will either enhance or detract from your viewing according to your own state of mind. Regardless, “The Beach House” is an impressive, evocative work. Anyone can mine scares from darkness and dust; it takes skill to turn sunshine and bubbling foam into the stuff of nightmares. Brown has crafted an impressive debut; this is a director with great potential.
My Rating: 8/10
“The Beach House” is streaming on Shudder.