Susanna (Amanda Seyfriend), a young, beautiful actress between jobs, and her old, rich ex-banker husband Theo (Kevin Bacon) take their daughter Ella on a picturesque little hideaway vacation in Wales. The home they rent is nestled in some truly gorgeous if isolated Welsh countryside, but the house itself is strikingly modern.
It’s on this vacation that a little girl will learn that her father was once accused of murdering his first wife. They probably thought that this is what Ella would remember of their time in Wales, but then Theo learns that Susanna is having an affair, and that little explosive piece of news grabs all the headlines. But both of these facts will be overshadowed by what comes next.
The whole family’s been having nightmares since they arrived. Nightmares that don’t always feel like nightmares. But strange things are happening during the day, too. It’s the house (is it the house?); Sean correctly identified it as a “murder house” about ten seconds after clocking it and it’s definitely giving off hostile vibes. Perhaps not your traditional haunted house (think American Psycho rather than Psycho Psycho) but it does have a peculiar knack for rearranging itself on the fly. You may have opened the door to the laundry room but you have found yourself in the basement. What’s in the basement? Nothing good, but you’ll have to walk down an ever-lengthening hallway to meet your fate.
Writer-director David Koepp delivers some effective jump scare and both Seyfriend and Bacon are convincingly paranoid and/or terrified, but something just feels off, and I don’t mean the morphing blueprint. There’s just no definitive villain, nothing concrete to fear. There’s a fair amount of tension but it doesn’t ever build to a satisfying conclusion. Koepp fucks around with time, space, the supernatural, and the existential: if you threw a punch with your eyes closed you should be able to hit something, but Koepp just never hits his mark, or defines it. He’s got a pretty bag of tricks, by which I mean he took some pretty meticulous notes while watching The Shining one night. This movie didn’t scare me and I get scared every time our furnace kicks in. Every. Time. But worse, it didn’t interest me or entertain me. A dozen loose ends don’t add up to a mystery, it means a script hit production before it had any right to, and now there’s another aimless horror movie in the world bringing the bell curve down for everyone.