The Happy House (2013) Poster

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13 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
some people really don't get this film
Sarah Wells12 November 2013
I think the other reviewers on here are not getting this film at all. I can see why it wouldn't be for everyone, but I thought it was actually really funny. The film is clearly commenting on the clichés you see ALL THE TIME in horror films, through the eyes of the two main characters. But then there's a moment when things suddenly change (I don't want to give anything away) and the movie gets a lot darker. If you go into this expecting a straightforward horror film then you will probably be disappointed, but I personally found it pretty surprising and different. Anyway lots of the reviews say it better than I am. Also there are some really funny characters like the lady who runs the bed and breakfast and this butterfly catcher who is obsessed with finding this one butterfly.
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Enjoyed it.
lloydwhuber20 November 2013
I enjoyed this movie. Perhaps more importantly I still find myself thinking about it. If you are searching for the obvious then I think it is wise to look elsewhere. If not, this little gem is beautifully shot, has amazing sound and a wonderful cast of characters. Although I found the connection between the two leading actors to be wanting the rest of the cast more than makes up for this. The matron mother of the bed and breakfast is great, so too is her overfed and doted on son. And as for the lepidopterist and the sister - I won't spoil that fun here. I do wish there had been a bit more pace but I suspect this was intentional. Overall this movie works for me, precisely because it is so close to what I expected but intelligently, humorously, and knowingly recast. I am not quite sure why but this movie reminds me of the sequence in Blue Velvet when Beaumont finds the ear (and those ants)...
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Quirky comedy horror
sforrester-313 May 2015
I guess this film may not be for everyone, but as someone who likes quirky, I certainly did. It's not a bog standard horror, it's not a bog standard comedy, it's not even a bog standard comedy/horror. In this case it's very much the different characters that drive the film and it feels very much like a stage play at times. When I first started watching it, I will admit to considering turning it off and trying something else but I'm glad I stuck with it. I loved the mix of characters who all had their issues and, although some may question their realism, I think the way they acted throughout the film was in line with their slightly strange natures. This film kept me guessing as to who the killer was going to be as all the characters at the beginning (with the exception of the couple) seemed like prime candidates. All in all, I really enjoyed this and it held my attention to the end. If you like your films a little bit strange, a bit funny and a bit dark then give this a go.
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charming performances don't quite save it
curtis martin29 May 2014
D.W. Young's "The Happy House" is a mixed bag. The actors and performances are quite charming and several notches above those found in most super-low budget HD features like this (the female lead is especially effective). It is also well shot and the sound is good.

The story starts as a variation on Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap" with some "Tucker and Dale vs Evil" overtones. However, Young's screenplay is all set up and no follow through and degenerates from quirky to sub-par dull about ¾ of the way through. IMDb shows that Young's previous films and videos have been shorts, and the construction of this story bears that out—there's only about 45 minutes of story crammed into this hour and a half.

It's not mentioned on IMDb, but I'd bet that the majority of Young's experience is in live theatre and not film. I say this because he obviously has a talent for working with actors and getting the best out of them—this is an area where low budget films are usually at their weakest, but it is HH's greatest strength. Young also seems uncomfortable with film editing, which makes much of the movie seem like an adapted stage play. He prefers very long, static shots, as though the camera was set up at the edge of a stage and just left to run while the actors stand or sit in one spot and talk. While this does often show off the skills of the actors-- who interact in these dialog-heavy sequences with a rhythm and naturalness that rarely rings false— it doesn't allow the protracted scenes to be edited for pace and is undeniably boring from a visual standpoint. And when young does employ standard editing—over the shoulder shots or povs—they are clumsily handled, as if he didn't really want to insert them, but felt he had no choice. Also, when locations shift between sequences, the screen simply fades to black and then back up again, like a curtain falling and rising. However this technique seems less like a stylistic choice and more like an "I'm doing it this way because I don't know another way to get from here to there."

Anyway, I don't want to sound like I'm ragging on the film. Young does many, many things right. As I said before, he gets very good performances out of his actors (and we all know that horrible acting is usually a low budget film's major weakness).

This movie was just a third of a screenplay and one professional editor away from being a classic indie comedy-horror flick along the lines of Ti West's "The Innkeepers." I look forward to more from all the folks involved in "The Happy House."
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A horror-comedy short on thrills and laughs but interesting character interactions
napierslogs29 January 2014
The Happy House is a remote Bed & Breakfast specializing in odd rules to make your stay as uncomfortable as possible. It somehow got good reviews (even though the movie itself has gotten bad reviews) and our New York Couple are off for a weekend to repair their relationship. Wendy doesn't want to go; Joe thinks it will be for the best. And as an audience, we have no clue what it's going to be like.

It starts out just plain weird. With an old-fashioned batty housewife, Hildie, ordering the couple around, and her strange grown son, Skip, who may or may not kill people, it doesn't seem like the most inviting movie to watch, but it does suggest there will be some kind of plot eventually.

And sure enough, there is a plot. With Joe and Wendy stuck there, a Swedish lepidopterist who likes staying there, and then the arrival of Hildie's significantly more normal sister, Linda, we now have a full house of people and action that can unfold entirely within the house and amongst the conversation of the people.

A deputy arrives at the door informing them that a serial killer is on the loose and they should not leave the house. I tend to like movies that force the action into one location and let the dialogue drive the characters forward. They each have their distinct personality and their own ideas on what they should to keep themselves safe. They make a number of mistakes, but I guess that's what keeps this horror-comedy silly.

I think I might be in the minority in wanting more character drama, but that's probably why I liked "The Happy House" which is short on thrills and laughs. It's an interesting premise with some strange elements but there's enough intrigue to the characters to keep some fans interested.

Who Might Like This: People who like character dramas disguised as horror-comedies; anybody looking for an odd combination of horror, comedy and relationship drama.
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alansmithee045 October 2013
Since they advertised this film as a "horror comedy" it might have been nice if the film makers had indeed included some horror and some comedy. Unfortunately all we get here is a few half-drawn characters and a sparse handful of horror movie clichés.

Long story short - an annoying New York couple stay at a B&B run by an annoying old woman and her dull son. There they play with their cell phones and tablets, meet a boring Swedish butterfly collector and then play with their electronic toys some more.

Once the "horror" starts, it's really hard to care about the fate of these dullards. But don't worry, they don't seem to care much either. And by the time this excursion into ennui sputters to a halt with all the impact of a wet firecracker, neither do we.
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Disconnected at best.
James Banks29 September 2015
The writer, director, casting director, and actors are all disconnected. The dialog is forced. Every actor in this debacle could not even make it into a senior citizen's life insurance commercial. It's almost as if this was set in an antiquated upper New England play house with very little draw. All, through the movie, you anticipate that there will be a slip of the camera and catch a cue card. Lines are memorized to the point of death. No heart in this, no feeling, and overplayed theatrics. But for the language, minor gore, and sexual innuendos, this plays out like a Mormon independent film. The suspense soundtrack sounds as if the producer let a five year old relative have creative control out of pity. The bad language is also forced. It is as if they took acting cues from the word of the day in Pee Wee's Playhouse. It would be more convincing if at the end, there was a credit that explained that aliens from another planet tried to mimic human life in New England and this was their final product. Plays out like a very bad joke that has been grossly lost in translation. The trilling part of this movie was when it was finally over so that I could honestly review it. Believe me, I tried to like this, I wanted to believe it would get better, but there is no funny, no scary, and has all the trappings of a depressed teenagers attempt at a screenplay. As it hops around with little coherence, the plot is too predictable. Oh, did I mention that the soundtrack sounds as if it was done by a five year old? Has cinema gotten so low?
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Deserves More Love, But I It Isn't For Everyone
just_an_oli8721 September 2015
This is a silly little movie, not scary, a little funny, and a bit uneven. It is understandable why the ratings are so low. But I still deserves a lot more love than it was given, even if it maybe didn't reach its potential.

First of all, it goes somewhere rather unexpected, which was a lot of fun. Second, the performances were actually pretty great, even working with what could be very cliché characters; they brought them to life in a way much more realistic than other (even better) films may have done.

But for me, what made this film was the likable nature of the characters. I find it hard to connect with a movie when I don't like the people in it. No such problems here.

If you don't mind something that doesn't quite live up to what it could have been, this is a nice, light watch.
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Went in expecting blood...
jucumba3 February 2015
All horror films have their tropes. It's an undeniable, unavoidable truth we fanatics must hold our hands up and admit. This film does not betray this one blood stained truth, it certainly has its trope (one I don't recall having seen in a while, come to think of it). But this film plays with that idea, with cheeky winks and broad grins. I went into it expecting a trope, and throughout are hints towards all the standards. But in the 80 something minutes of this film you'll get more than tropes. I got bored half way through, having expected much more blood, and fast forwarded to see if anything actually happens. It does and it's worth a watch. This film isn't the most excited, or most emotional I have ever seen. But it has a quiet sense about itself, a sly smile and thankful attitude.

A self aware dark comedy. A simpler cousin of the Scream franchise. A pretty good soundtrack.
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Boring Drama --NOT Comedy Horror!!!
drewdropin23 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I never fill out this kind of thing, but I watched this movie based on the 6.8 star rating that usually indicates a movie worth one's time. THIS MOVIE ISN'T!!!

Now mind you, it isn't actually the 2 stars that i gave it --since is was ranked so highly at, I had to intervene with the low rating and this rebuke/review. It's a solid 4.5 however; so, I'll point out the stuff that made it such, along with the monotony that kills it.

Joe & Wendy (Khan Baykal & Aya Cash respectively) are an unintentionally-mis-matched couple trying to escape some of there frustrations with life and each other at a --not so far away-- bed and breakfast. While amending some differences, their frustrations mount. A quirky (but lovable) hostess Hildie (Marceline Hugot), who has a list of unexpected demands that could obfuscate even the strictest of puritans --the consequences are "dire," yet she steals the show in this picture to a large extent. Her son is a large, oafish character, whom one can't decide is a threat or endearing. Decidedly, the couple fears the worst for not only themselves but also for a rather likable chum staying at the B&B (Hverven played by Oliver Henzler), an entomologist with a thing for the ladies & butterflies.

Added to the mix is a seemingly sensible Kathleen McNenny (playing Hildie's sister Linda), who sheds a little light on Hildie & her son. Soon, a sheriff knocks at the door warning the cast of an escaped madman ("Desmond the Decapitator" played by Charles Borland). After the sheriff leaves, Desmond (big surprise) comes to the door during dinner, well dressed and polite.


This is where the ridiculousness begins ramping up. The elderly hostess with a madman on the loose is allowed to go to the door with her .44 magnum, but naturally the killer (who's claiming to have car trouble) sees it and easily disarms her. The madman proceeds to hold them all hostage, killing a couple of them, including himself by accident (uneventfully chopping himself in the back with an ax).

The married couple seeking refuge at the B&B are just mismatched and unbelievable. One doesn't care about their relationship and when she storms out of the B&B "stealing" the car AND the coveted muffins which are the object of consequences rendered for rule-breaking, her husband doesn't even bother to pursue.

The movie overall just has the feel of a "B" movie, so from the beginning, none of characters are taken seriously. They are scattered and don't seem to have any unison, other than Hildie & her son.

In conclusion this movie is one to avoid. It's a mess, from the mismatched characters to an unbelievable madman, who somehow manages to kill himself in pursuit of his prey. It is more like a boring drama, not a comedy horror.
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Too much love for Tropes
Andrew Willson9 April 2017
I think a lot of the reviews for this movie don't appreciate tropes the correct way, its no so much to say that its wrong to enjoy originality but I think we punish films too much for not being 'original'. What I liked most about this film is that it hit trope after trope but then be false it creates suspicion and suspense about is this character evil or wrong but each is a false clue. The story in this movie is actually very honest, it doesn't lie or mislead unless you rely upon the tropes to telegraph what is going on, the characters are honest and it lets you lie to yourself in a way that I find very refreshing. That is why I enjoyed this movie, the writing and the acting felt right for the scenario it felt like a horror movie even if in many ways is was merely a comedy of errors, I'd like to see more movies like this out there.
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Quirky, But Not Quirky Enough
gavin69421 November 2014
Their relationship on the rocks, a young Brooklyn couple heads to a remote B&B to work things out. But from the moment they arrive at the Happy House it is one disaster after another, and they soon begin to suspect they have wandered into a real life horror movie.

Well, unfortunately this film does not include Siouxsie Sioux's "Happy House" on the soundtrack. But what it does have is some odd pseudo-intellectual conversations centering around Nouveau Recontextualism and a Bukowski reference, as well as a butterfly scientist (who loves Nabokov).

Neil Genzlinger at the New York Times does not love this movie. He writes, "The film, a sleepy, low-budget affair, merely enacts a series of horror movie clichés, as if that were enough. Its bland actors and wit-free script do nothing with the familiar elements but present them." That is not without merit. The movie tries to be a horror comedy, but is very light on the horror and equally light on the comedy. While still enjoyable for its characters, there is really nothing memorable and this comes off as an experiment that was not completely successful.
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Happy House 2013
Jon H. Contreras30 September 2014
This movie had a good story but the acting, lighting, editing, music and direction skills killed it. You could easily tell who had more experience in movie making than the rest. It was humorous at times and it had a taint of Hitchcock in it but not nearly enough. Had the actors been professional or perhaps skillfully directed it may have caught more attention, instead it made it laughable at times and the music was amateur. The house keeper was funny, her character led me to believe she was evil but I was wrong. The movie still had me interested, the tension toward the end kept me alert. It was a good attempt and I feel the cast all learned something from it to enhance their skills toward their next film.
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