Chris (Christian Oliver) and Maggie (Rachel Marie Lewis) are hardly a perfect couple. After an argument between the two turns physical, resulting in a miscarriage, the couple tries to change their lives by moving from the city to the country. And when they start over in the wild, they truly try to start over.
The house they buy is huge, and has been split into a duplex as an easy rental property. The house also resides in an area where phone and power lines cannot reach it. Locals rely on spotty cell service and gas-powered generators. It’s a chore for even the hardiest of people.
And the situation is not made easier when Chris bails for huge chunks of time to continue training as a firefighter. Left alone in the woods, Maggie struggles, especially considering she keeps hearing a ringing phone, which supposedly cannot exist, and the neighbors she’s sharing a wall with, the Andersons, are recluses one minute and arguing banshees another. So what is going on in this house, what’s up with the Andersons and will Chris and Maggie save their marriage, or was the move just a temporary reprieve?
David Mun’s House of Good and Evil adds some spookiness to an otherwise dramatic and tragic tale of marriage. By the time the credits roll, and every little mystery that has been set up is finally explained, the film reveals itself to be far more than you may have guessed.
Because it does work within certain psychological thriller tropes while at the same time dabbling in dramatic ones, you’ll probably get the feeling that you know where this is heading. And, yeah, you’ll probably guess something that’s close, but I admit that the film’s resolution surprised me. I saw lots of different scenarios playing out, and none of them were exactly what wound up being the case.
And that’s refreshing, because it would’ve been easy to walk a familiar road and end up at a familiar resolution. This film is more like a walk you’ve taken a couple times before, know all the landmarks, but wind up arriving somewhere completely different than where you thought you were heading. Which is nice.
That said, the film doesn’t make it easy for the audience to connect with, or root for, the couple at its center. Both Chris and Maggie, whether their reasons are justified or not, are quick to fight, and you wind up wondering if maybe the best place they could’ve moved is far away from each other.
Based on the title, and some aspects of the score, you get the feeling that this was being set up as a horror film, but if this feels like a horror film, it’s a marital one. More than anything, it’s a tragic drama wrapped up in the clothes of a psychological thriller, with a sprinkle of horror to make things a little more interesting.
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