THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES (2011)
Directed by Jay Lee and Jim Roof
Screended at Grimmfest 2013
THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES was one of the most disturbingly dark movies I saw at Grimmfest 2013 film festival in Manchester at the beginning of October, and quite frankly, one of the most interesting movies I’ve seen this year. You would think from the plot that this is just a tale of torture porn. Well, it is but there’s so much more. One suprising aspect of the movie is the comedy contained within. The humour is so black that you feel wrong for laughing at certain moments, as this is no easy watch for a horror fan. As time goes on, you can appreciate this movie more and more, and recognise its magnificence in satire as well as its depth.
Besides from their disturbing choice of career, Ed and Susan are your average suburban couple and from the outside looking in, you wouldn’t suspect a thing. Susan, played magnificently by Shannon Malone, is so full of sugar and sweetness that you would never suspect she had interests in murdering folk. Like a Stepford wife, she dotes on Ed, played by a tremendous Jim Roof who also wrote and co-directed the movie, and appears to be the perfect housewife, one who loves to bake in the kitchen and please her significant other. Determined for their never-before-seen snuff porn triple bill, Ed and Susan go out for a drive in Hollywood, ‘scouting’ for talent for their movies. Using a handheld camcorder, the couple document and talk through their thoughts and intentions. This helps the story along immensely, as not only is this method an insight into their madness, but also a great storytelling device, one which the characters intend to use as part of the special features on their triple bill release. This fly-on-the-wall style also opens the doors for some cracking comedy, including the part where they secure three teens who subsequently run away after Ed and Susan forget their kidnapping bag at home. Yes, there’s a kit bag containing everything one would need in order to kidnap someone.
Eventually, Ed and Susan manage to entice three teenagers back to their home: aspiring musician ‘stud muffin’ Clutch (Andrew Hopper), his girlfriend Jamie (Larissa Lynch) and her best friend Crystal (Liz Burghdorf). Promised $500 a piece for a threesome on camera, the skint teens accept the proposal, knowing that the money will help them keep a roof over their heads. Little do they know what they’re letting themselves in for.
With hidden cameras dotted all around the house, the handheld camera footage is replaced by static ‘Big Brother’ style cameras which settles the viewer for the events that will unfold. This suddenly changes the scenario of the viewer simply watching some found footage to being a sort of voyeur to the atrocities that Ed and Susan will commit. Of course, even though the camera style changes, the film is still portrayed as a ‘found footage’ movie, with the intro credits saying that director Jay Lee received tapes of footage that were deemed to be fake, which he edited together to create what you see before you, the aptly titled House with 100 Eyes, a reference to the hidden cameras. It also pokes fun at the viewer, holding up a mirror to those who are drawn to gruesome events. As horror fans, we are all guilty of this as we search for the films with more blood, guts and better death scenes. I’ll be the first to say I enjoy watching films like that, but the line is drawn at entertainment. Reality is a different matter.
One of the most important aspects of the film is its satirical exploration of cinema in general and the relationship of what’s on screen to what the viewer wants to see. Ed is enthusiastic on how he wants to create a great porno with a section of long, drawn-out torture kills. Not instantaneous death, but a snuff movie where the victim has to endure pain for hours upon end. Ed’s wife Susan has other ideas, which are hinted at early on in the film. Susan’s idea of quick, blood-soaked kills is not one that Ed shares and he makes it clear that they will be producing the triple bill his way, not hers. You can’t help but analyse the whole ‘feed the audience’ satire that House with 100 Eyes has and you’ll begin to smile at how aware and clever this movie really is. And funny. Can’t forget the humour!
I don’t believe this movie has a release date yet, but if it ever comes to DVD (which it should do!), this is a thoroughly enjoyable yet depraved movie any horror fan must witness. Cruel, calculating, comedic and incredible.