The Happy House: Film Review
A serial killer terrorizes the guests of a B&B in D.W. Young's horror comedy.
Bed & breakfasts can be scary under the best of circumstances, a perennial problem that filmmaker D.W. Young tries to take advantage of in his horror comedy The Happy House. Depicting the ill-fated experiences of a young urban hipster couple who make the mistake of checking into the titular establishment, the film squanders its potentially fun premise by somehow forgetting to include both laughs and scares.
Wendy (Aye Cash) and hubby Joe (Khan Baykal) hope that a nice weekend in the country will be just the thing to help them with their relationship issues. So they’re less than happy to discover that the B&B they’ve chosen is run with an iron first by its puritanical owner (Marceline Hugot) who has a “three strike” rule concerning such offenses as profanity, unsuitable attire or using the house phone without permission. She does, however, cook the world’s best blueberry muffins.
Among the other bizarre characters on hand are the owner’s hulking, axe-wielding son (Mike Houston) and an eccentric Swedish lepidoptertist (Oliver Henzler) in pursuit of a rare butterfly.
For a while the film is content to coast on a gentle, sitcom-style level, until news of an escaped serial killer comes to light. When said killer shows up at the front door and begins wreaking violent mayhem, the tone suddenly shifts as the house’s residents are suddenly forced to fight for their lives.
While the situation seems rife with possibilities, the filmmaker doesn’t have the necessary chops to fully exploit them, with the neither fish nor fowl results never making much of an impact. Clearly shot on a very low budget and featuring mildly funny jokes about such things as the endless cuckoo clocks littering the inn’s premises, the film drops the ball in its handling of its would-be startling tonal shifts. Although the performers display an admirable commitment to the thin material—Hugot is a hoot as the Bible-spouting proprietress—The Happy House lives up to its title by resembling a horror film that’s taken too many anti-depressants.
Opens April 3 (First Run Features)
Cast: Khan Baykal, Aya Cash, Marceline Hugot, Kathleen McNenny, Oliver Henzler, Mike Houston, Charles Borland, Stivi Paskorski
Director/screenwriter/editor: D. W. Young
Producer: Judith Mizrachy
Executive producers: Oliver Henzler, Even Mizrachy, Dan Weschsler
Director of photography: Arlene Muller
Production designer: Greg Meola
Composer: David Ullmann
Not rated, 80 min.