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Review Bites: The Deep House, Monstrous and Unhuman

The Deep House (2021)

How about this for a premise. Engaged couple Ben (James Jagger, son of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall) and Tina (Camille Rowe) make their living by visiting supposed haunted houses and posting, sharing their first-hand experiences and footage on their YouTube channel.

After a potential site falls through, they meet a mysterious stranger (Éric Savin as Pierre Montégnac) who agrees to take them to a far better location, an infamous haunted mansion which is submerged underwater in a lake, of all places. It doesn’t take the excited Ben and Tina long to suit up for the dive. A confident Ben is an experienced diver while Tina, who is wet behind the ears so to speak, follows Ben’s lead. The vloggers do indeed find what appears to be a perfectly preserved mansion which has many secrets and surprises waiting for them.

The Deep House flips between being sort of a found footage and you run-of-the-mill horror movie. It uses the same trappings of a found footage film as we sometimes observe Ben and Tina’s adventure through the sometimes shaky, out of focus camera they are recording with. As I have mention many times before, I am not a fan of found footage films. I would rather kiss a werewolf than watch Blair Witch, Hell House, Paranormal Activity, etc, ever again. About the only ones I did like were Cloverfield, WNUF Halloween Special and a few others. The Deep House is one of the better ones although it technically isn’t one by definition but it still employs the same tricks of the trade.

A vulnerable Ben and Tina exploring underwater the entire time adds a whole lot of tension to the proceedings. Not only are we constantly made aware of how much air they have left in their tanks but the entire experience is even more shadowy, creepy and intensely claustrophobic. It may take a bit for our Youtube Scooby Gang to take the plunge into the unknown but once they do The Deep House never comes up for air.

Watch on: Amazon, VoD services, Paramount+ and Amazon Prime.

Monstrous (2022)

Like so many female characters these days, Laura (Christina Ricci) is fleeing an abusive ex-husband. It seems to me this trope is being used by lazy filmmakers so frequently to generate automatic sympathy for their characters so they don’t have to create fully-formed, detailed backstories for them. In this case, we do feel badly for Laura and her son Cody (Santino Barnard) as Laura is a doting, caring mom who just wants a better life for them both.

Laura is a bit kooky though. Even for someone living in the fifties she really over the top, almost a Stepford Wife caricature. There are hints throughout the film though that Laura’s personality might be a little excessive because she is overcompensating for an addiction problem.

Laura rents a hinterland home for herself and Cody so they can have a fresh start. What Laura doesn’t know is their next-door neighbour is a monster who lives in a nearby lake. At times the rippling, streaming sludge monster looks as cool as Venom and other times it is just completely laughable. Cody and the monster develop a bond of sorts and that escalates to a tug of war between Laura and Sludgy for Cody’s soul, well, sort of.

Just like Midsommar was a relationship movie disguised as a horror movie Monstrous is a parenthood movie disguised as a horror movie. In fact, there is very little horror at all and the horror that is introduced is Creature from the Black Lagoon kind of scary. The sporadic horror elements are really just minor backdrops for what Monstrous is really about. As always, Christina Ricci is fantastic but even her talents cannot save this tedious film that does have its moments here and there.

Watch on: VoD, Amazon, VoD services, Dark side of the internet.

Unhuman  (2022)

Everything about Unhuman is just plain stupid. I mean, really, really stupid. The characters are all just cartoon characters playing off high school stereotypes. Besides best friends Brianne Tju as Ever and Ali Gallo as Tamra, the cast are just a bunch of walking, talking body bags that we aren’t made to care about in any way because they don’t even seem to care about the film they are in. Here’s hoping that Tju and Gallo get more work because they really do have that spark that can take them places beyond this sewer sludge. Like the zombies, the other characters are just shuffling through one scene to the next. The big twist, revealed through flashbacks, is stupidly ludicrous and so too is the end credits scene.

Unhuman’s paint-by-numbers story has a bus load of teens on a school field trip finding themselves lost in the wilderness after an accident. The hackneyed characters are forced to face off against a horde of undead while blundering around in cheap sets , never evolving beyond their goth, nerd, geek, jock, princess cardboard stereotypes.

The humour is bowling shoe ugly and one of the worst things about the film. The producers actually think they are being clever and witty but they aren’t and neither is their script. The high point is the film’s introduction declaring it “Blumhouse’s After School Special“. Dad humour like that isn’t going to cut it with today’s teens who might not even understand the reference anyways. Blumhouse also has the nerve to tag line the movie: “The Dead Will Have This Club For Breakfast“. Perhaps they should have listened to Richard Vernon’s advice when he said: “You ought to spend more time trying to do something with yourself and a little less trying to impress people.”

Like ExxonMobil, Blumhouse has released a lot of pollution into the world and Unhuman is just another indifferent, spiritless, forgettable crapfest. It is so terminally dull and brainless that it resembles the drooling, shambling zombies that populate its simple-minded 90 minute runtime. Avoid at all costs.

Watch on: Amazon, VoD, darkside of the internet.

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