As (some) people are hesitant to go back to the beach amidst this pandemic, Shudder’s new original film The Beach House certainly isn’t encouraging anyone to go back in the water. Blending elements of isolation, surrealism, and body horror, The Beach House has a lot going for it, although it does take a bit too long to get there.
The film begins with Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) taking a trip to Randall’s father’s beach house to get away and try to mend their relationship. Upon arrival, we’re treated to absolute scene beauty, as the house itself is quite literally on the beach itself.
But after staying one night, they discover another couple Mitch (Jake Weber) and Jane (Maryann Nagel) has also arrived to stay. They are friends of Randall’s father, and it is revealed (much to Emily’s annoyance) that Randall never actually talked to his father about staying there.
Nevertheless, they make the most of the awkward situation and decide to all stay together. Were this any other genre, there would certainly be lots of relationship drama and humorous moments, but since it’s a horror film that can’t happen. Unfortunately however, it takes a bit too long for things to start happening.
Waiting for the Third Act
The first hour of this roughly hour and half film are devoted to establishing the four characters and having them interact in a normal setting. We see tension as Randall reveals his dropping out of college, and even some foreshadowing where Emily discusses her academic pursuits of studying fascinatingly unknown oceanic life.
There’s nothing wrong with setting up the story like this. It just feels that once the horror begins, it’s over rather quickly as we’re already in the third act. Perhaps if we had seen Emily and Randall deal with the dangerous fog and mysterious parasites that emerged from it, this wouldn’t have been as much as issue.
That said, the final half hour is beautifully disturbing, suspenseful, and contains some truly cringe-inducing body horror. Its creative visuals feel like a milder version of Color Out of Space, The Mist, and Annihilation. It doesn’t go quite as far as any of them, but it almost feels like it could exist in their universes, just at the very beginning of the “event”.
For those viewers who are patient, and don’t mind waiting the hour for it to begin, the third act makes The Beach House very much worth watching!
The Beach House is streaming exclusively on Shudder
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