|Index||3 reviews in total|
This dark little jewel of a film is cleverly written and produced, the soundtrack is elegantly understated yet unsettling, the photography is beautiful, even the art direction and costume design(along with the set decor-is the horror memorabilia Paul's, or is it Reece's?)is sly. "Him Indoors" feels classic without being derivative, and highly original among so many full-length films that rely on hackneyed plots and scare tactics. The career of writer/director, Paul Davis, is definitely worth watching if he can accomplish this much with a small budget and a short window of production time. This film had me laughing and cringing simultaneously, thanks to the wonderful performances of the actors. Pollyanna McIntosh shines as Gregory's kooky, flirtatious neighbor, and Reece Shearsmith is just an amazing actor-he owns this role. He's chilling yet endearing, he's so mild-mannered and charming, but he manages to make your skin crawl; he makes a lovely monster. The whole film is wickedly funny, but it will remind you that monsters don't always look scary, and they might live next door...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'MEET GREGORY BREWSTER: INSANE... INEPT... INDOORS.'
The most horrible of sorts in the history of the horror movie, have always been the nicest as well; think Peter Cushing, Vincent Price or Ian Bannen.
Reece Shearsmith is perhaps an unlikely horror icon too - but he's scared the life out of us too often now for there to be any doubt; this man has a natural talent for portraying pure evil in a very nice way. But don't be fooled - because when Shearsmith does shocks, he does so with a smile that cuts you in half by the time the end credits roll.
In 'Him Indoors', Shearsmith plays the role of Gregory Brewster, a quiet agoraphobic (perceived as a fear of wide open spaces). To be picky, experts on the condition may tell you that agoraphobia is a general condition of panic attacks in any space, even crowded shopping centres, not just open areas, which is the basis of the film's final - wonderful and crowd-pleasing - twist.
Pollyanna McIntosh who was so excellent in last year's The Woman (where she played a feral find in the nearby forest, captured by a local family man and subjected to all kinds of hideous humiliations before gaining her revenge at the end), here plays mild-mannered - but slightly too kooky for her own good - next door neighbour, Lizzie. 'Mad' Lizzie really is the man-hungry sort and looks tall enough and scary enough to eat poor Gregory alive.
I half expected a twist where Pollyanna goes all wanton wildlife on us and tears little Reece to shreds before the end credits of 'Him Indoors', but it wasn't to be. Pollyanna has at least 12 film and TV projects on the go right now, including the long-awaited adaptation of Irvine Welsh's 'Filth' - and it's heartening that such a talented and rising young star still supports and appears in low budget shorts like this one.
All hell breaks loose in 'Him Indoors' when bubbly (and burning with hot desires deep inside her designer jogging pants) Lizzie pops round to Gregory's place for "a cup of tea. Or a shag," - in her words. She gets the tea. Interestingly, writer and director Paul Davis claims that Pollyanna played the role as if under the impression that Gregory is gay, her overt come-on less of a threat then, more playful. I'm not so sure. Remember when Boy George was quoted in the 80's as 'preferring a cup of tea to sex'? Lizzie seems the kind of girl who'd ask for both - at the same time, regardless of sexual preference.
(Major plot spoilers appear in the next couple of paragraphs)
But Gregory's life is in barely-contained turmoil with fear of eviction and being sent back into the real world, looming. In fact, he's just had a visitor, a delivery boy played by Seelan Gunaseelan who Gregory has tied to a chair in the kitchen "I was going to have a Chinese, now it's going to be an Indian," says Gregory, in a line that seems a bit unnecessary, but I think meant harmlessly enough. Director Paul Davis confirms this: "The line said to the delivery boy is actually intended to explain what it is he plans to do with him. Eat him. The revelation that he's a cannibal, as well as a serial murderer, is there to suggest how he's gotten away with it for so long and how he disposes of the bodies. The casual racism toward the delivery boy is a character trait I threw in, suggesting that he'd been sheltered from multiculturalism by his mother for so many years and didn't really have a grasp on political correctness."
The delivery boy is killed in a casual way, a quite revolting stab to the neck, and the body placed under the sofa. Lizzie of course notices the lump under the cushion where the body lies, explained away by Gregory as a design fault in the sofa bed, and the dark stain leaking from the side of the sofa also explained away as the red wine he spilled earlier. Lizzie sees horror posters on the wall ('Rosemary's Revenge' - and what a movie that could be!), as well as those horror and sci-fi collectible figures that all genre freaks stock up on (like others buy milk or bread) from shops such as Forbidden Planet, scattered around. Lizzie casually asks Gregory what film he last saw at the cinema. In the best line of the film, Gregory thinks for a moment: "The Fly, in 1986.. (long pause). I don't get out much." The brutal dispatch of Lizzie when she discovers that clearly the sticky red goo she touches on the side of the sofa isn't wine at all, is swift and not funny. Gregory gets what he hopes for - a prison sentence. Locked away alone for the rest of his life - sounds perfect. Except for the bit about daily exercise in a big open space!
(End of spoilers)
'Him Indoors' earned a fantastic reception at Frightfest 2012, and features a suitably unhinged performance from Reece Shearsmith that's effortlessly chilling, and sweetly contained. Pollyanna McIntosh as sex-mad Lizzie is almost as frightening a prospect, but you feel real terror for her as she begins to realise that Gregory isn't a bit of alright, or even at all right (in the head), after all. The horror is suitably nasty and the humour as black as four-day-old blood. Some of the dialogue was laugh-out-loud funny and chock-full of modern wit.
Director Paul Davis shoots with exquisite efficiency and agoraphobic flair; piling on that rising panic attack with a certain coolness and contained precision of touch, so that, when the horror comes - it's clinically brutal. Rather like the mind of Gregory Brewster in fact.
by Mark Gordon Palmer
That perfect combination between just enough laughs, winces and jumps.
The short achieves where most features disappoint - knowing your
audience and keeping them surprised. It plays to the horror fans but
doesn't sucker into any predictable stereotypes. Reece Shearsmith is a
delight and carries the film with what could be a one-man show.
Is it worrying that I find myself relating to his character a bit too much?
Saw this in a screen full of true horror fans at Film4's FrightFest and there were cackles all around. Truly excited to see what Paul Davis can do with his feature Silent Night of the Living Dead. Hopefully this time he'll take it into the big open outdoors.
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