Whew! It’s been a while. In the past few months, I’ve gotten a new job, moved, done everything short of changing my identity. Suffice to say, it’s been busy.
I had been experiencing a sort of movie blogging malaise of late – partially because winter is a shit time to find new horror movies, and partially because I’ve just been busy. So what was enough to stir me from my metaphorical slumber? What dragged this surly movie bear out of his cave and back to the keyboard? I watched a really shitty movie, that’s what.
The movie in question was 2017’s wet fart Havenhurst by director Andrew Erin. I hate to get all Peter Griffin, but I have to take some time to gripe about a movie trope I’ve seen one too many times now, and it’s starting to really grind my gears, if you know what I mean. Fair warning – I am about to spoil a whole bushel of mediocre horror movies all at once. It’s just more efficient this way.
So Havenhurst falls back on the time-honored “dudes in the walls” trope for its kinda-sorta twist. The movie starts out weakly gesturing that there miiiiight be something supernatural going on, only to reveal by like 25 minutes in that nope, it’s just a creepy pale guy in a leather daddy’s chest harness, lurking in secret passages in the walls. I liked this trope better when it was in The Pact. Or The Boy. Or Housebound. Or – no, wait, I thought it was shit in all of those movies too. Sorry, m’bad.
The common thread through all of these movies is that people living in a house keep hearing bumps in the night, catching glimpses of something in the corners of their eyes, and the audience is led to believe it could be an unquiet spirit of some sort. Only at some point, usually around the start of the third act, it is revealed that it was a weird, pale guy hiding in the walls, coming out at night to shuffle around and eat their leftovers, or watch TV, or shave their pubes with someone’s beard trimmer – look, I admit I don’t entirely understand the ecology of crawlspace-dwelling weirdos. But like, they have to be coming out to use the bathroom and raid the fridge every so often, right? I mean, if there was a guy in MY basement doing his number twos behind the walls, I’d have to imagine I’d notice the smell before long and start to ask questions. I’ve gotten off-track.
Honestly, the whole “the calls are coming from inside the house” trope has been done well maybe two times ever. The first is the originator of that trope and indeed, that very line – 1974’s Black Christmas, by Bob Clark. As well as pretty much locking down the best use of a killer secretly infiltrating peoples’ home for all time, it essentially created the holiday slasher sub-genre. When John Carpenter made Halloween four years later, Clark and Carpenter envisioned a whole series of slasher movies based around murder sprees coinciding with a holiday. Even though their plan didn’t come to fruition, others picked up the mantle to various degrees of success. But that’s an entire other blog post.
The other time I feel that the infiltrating killer trope was done really well was a Korean horror-thriller entitled Hide and Seek, directed by Jung Huh and released in 2013. As well as doing a pretty good job of weaving in a class struggle narrative (a frequent trend in extremely class-conscious modern Korean cinema), it does a really, really satisfying job of portraying the scariness of finding out that there are people who want everything you have, and they’re already close enough to touch you. Plus, that final scene…fuuuuuuck.
Look, I’m not saying we need to abolish the trope of having crazy people hiding in the walls of peoples’ homes. There’s still meat on those bones for the right director. Just…can we give it a break for a bit until someone comes up with a better spin? And can we have less weird dudes with vitamin D deficiencies just…in general? Thanks in advance. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to the store for more toothpaste. For some reason I’ve been using it up twice as fast lately…