M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Three of my decade-long Retro-Best in Horror recap Countdowns begins officially on October 1, 2012 and goes through September 30, 2013. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!
How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2012 and September 30, 2013 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on May 14, 2013 and available on digital download, On Demand and BluRay/DVD here!
HOME SWEET HOME (2013)
Though there have been many home invasion films lately with more to come, the outcome of these films are often pretty predictable, as there are only a few ways the film can end: the invader kills the family and gets away, signifying the death of the dream of the typical American way of life, OR the invader is killed by the family, who more often than not are dysfunctional, yet find a way to survive and overcome the threat, possibly stating that nothing is stronger than good, old fashioned family. And that’s about it. One is a glass half full message of the strength of the American nuclear family, the other is the glass half empty note of nihilism that there’s no such thing anymore. And while these films are predictable, I usually find myself intrigued in some way to find out which side of the coin falls in any particular home invasion film. For the most part, which way it goes is telegraphed from the beginning, but in cases like HOME SWEET HOME, I was guessing up until the very last second, making this one of the best home invasion films you’re going to see this year.
What works is the way director David Morlet (aka David Morley, who also directed the fantastic “THE FLY meets 28 DAYS LATER” flick MUTANTS a few years ago) sets up the tension. The first 15 minutes of this film are beyond tense as a silent masked man breaks into a home and sets things up to make sure when the occupants come home he controls everything. Bolting the windows closed, manipulating furniture and doors, even petting the cat, the intruder isn’t given motivation or back-story. He just shows up, faceless and wordless, knowing what he is about to do and staying one step ahead of everyone else, including the viewer. When the couple (played by Meghan Heffern, who looks a lot like a cuter Parker Posey, and Adam MacDonald, who plays the doltish husband to a tee) get home, they obliviously move about the house as if nothing is wrong. But we as the viewer have seen what they haven’t. Like a true Hitchcockian classic, HOME SWEET HOME excels at tension to the nth degree.
The beauty of these tense moments is that the story smartly plays with the viewers’ expectations. We know the attack is coming, but Morlet is painfully patient in bringing that attack forth for quite a long time. But never does a minute of this film pass that is not full of goose-pimpling tension. When the attack does occur, Morlet continues his methodology by slowly pulling back the curtain to show why this invasion is happening. Just when you think you know how the film is going to end, the rug is pulled out from under you yet again.
Set with only four actors and a single locale, HOME SWEET HOME should be something all low budget filmmakers should look at and study in the ratcheting of tension, full use of a small location, and the painfully tense use of patience, punctuated with deliciously bombastic action. I was on the edge of my seat for this entire film, not knowing who was alive or dead and never given a moment to guess how it will end.
HOME SWEET HOME surprised the hell out of me and proves that no matter how many types of a film has been made, given a skilled director and a talented cast, a simple story like this one can leave a deep, red gash. Though it’s much more gory than a Hitchcock film, those who love stories filled with that type of suspense and tension will find themselves pleased as punch upon viewing HOME SWEET HOME.
THE 2012-2013 COUNTDOWN!
#19 – HOME SWEET HOME
#20 – THE TAINT
#21 – THE PURGE
#22 – RITUAL/MODUS ANOMALI
#23 – V/H/S/2
#24 – MON AMI
#25 – EUROPA REPORT
#26 – BLIND ALLEY
#27 – MIDNIGHT SON
#28 – DEVIL’S PASS
#29 – COME OUT AND PLAY
#30 – THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH
#31 – I DIDN’T COME HERE TO DIE
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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