House of Darkness (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

House of Darkness (2022) Review

Horrorific content by christina on July 29th, 2022 | Movie Review | Comedy, Vampire, Love Sick, Drama, Thriller, Mystery

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It's about an oblivious, horny young man who goes to a beautiful yet dangerous woman's rural mansion for a date night.

House of Darkness was directed by Neil LaBute (The Wicker Man) and stars Justin Long (Barbarian, Yoga Hosers, and Tusk), Kate Bosworth (The Immaculate Room, The Domestics, and Before I Wake), Gia Crovatin, and Lucy Walters (False Positive, Boarding School, and Here Alone).

House of Darkness (2022) Review

Neil LaBute's films often have similar traits. The skilled screenwriter has a way with words, so his scripts are intelligent and quick-witted. He is interested in how people of different genders interact and how acrimonious the battle of the sexes can be. His films often feature repulsive characters committing detestable acts, and he enjoys dark humor, which meshes well with his tendency to explore sensitive and unsettling topics.

LaBute's newest film, House of Darkness, has most of these elements. The story starts with a man and a woman arriving at her rural home, which is soon shown to be a mansion. They're not close friends: they met at a bar in the city, he gave her a ride home, and she invited him in.

It's clear from the start that something is amiss. Long's character is an awkward fumbler who constantly puts his foot in his mouth, saying the wrong thing and then hastily trying to backtrack. Bosworth's appearance with her long blonde hair and white lace gown gives the impression that she is from a different era. She is the one who is driving the conversation and the events of the film.

The film consists mainly of dialogue with minimal action. The first act takes place entirely in one room, and although LaBute wrote House of Darkness to be a film, it could easily be adapted to a stage production.

The conversation quickly moves to the critical topics of each other's jobs, wealth, and marital status. She comes across as sexy, mysterious, and honest, while he comes off as dim, horny, and a liar. Truth and intentionality are essential topics in the movie; the conversation often goes back to them as the night progresses.

To say more would ruin the film's enjoyment, though not its surprises, of which there are few. This isn't a complaint: House of Darkness lays all its cards on the table early and then comfortably plays out exactly as anticipated, with no twists or deviation.

The film is mostly dialogue with a few actors in one location. Even at 83 minutes, the runtime might be too much for some viewers. Some might argue that this film is only funny because of its premise. The "reveal" happens before the 20-minute mark, making the rest of the film feel long and empty for some viewers since it is so predictable.

Moviegoers familiar with film genre conventions will have no trouble understanding the context of the situation, but that's not the point. LaBute isn't trying to conceal what's happening or who Bosworth's character is. Instead, the film's humor comes mainly from the characters' reactions to the self-evident things happening that only the main character seems not to notice. He is too occupied with making excuses for the strangeness of the situation, his date's belligerent attitude, and all of the warning signs because he is convinced that it will all be worth it to sleep with this beautiful person.

The film House of Darkness is a satire that pokes fun at the stupidity of the main character, Long. The audience's awareness of the situation is used to create humor. The enjoyment of the film comes from watching Long get played repeatedly because he is so focused on trying to have sex that he doesn't realize he is in trouble.

Audiences will find a lot to like about this ambitious experiment, particularly the strength of the two lead performances and LaBute's signature deadpan humor. In addition, long excels at playing a bumbling idiot too preoccupied with sex to realize - or acknowledge - the danger. This character is a stand-in for every man who's gone to a bar looking to get drunkenly hooked up with someone.

Bosworth is a great actress who perfectly captures the character's enigmatic, sensual, and fun-loving qualities. Her facial expressions are very amusing when she is listening to, disagreeing with, or trapping Long's character in a lie. The back-and-forth between these two main performances - both sexually and linguistically - ensures that House of Darkness is never dull.

The light plot and talkative production make House of Darkness a film that won't work for everyone. But there's also something admirable about LaBute's cocky confidence: it's a considerable risk to lay everything out right at the beginning and then stick to it (It certainly wouldn't work without LaBute's fantastic ability with dialogue and the great performances by both leads).

Worth Watching? 

For those who are okay with a movie that is blatantly obvious and predictable being funny, House of Darkness is a witty, sometimes silly, often hilarious date night film.

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