One of the most underappreciated facets of modern movie-making is that of sound and sound design. Whilst it’s rarely mentioned, especially compared to say cinematography or editing, it can make or break a film. You only need to watch something like Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio or John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place to appreciate its importance. He’s Out There is another which uses it superbly to keep its audience on edge.
Laura (Yvonne Strahovski) and Shawn (Justin Bruening) decide to take daughters Maddie (Abigail Pniowsky) and Kayla (Anna Pniowsky) on vacation to their remote lake house. As Shaun is delayed, the ‘girls’ go on ahead. They encounter Owen (Julian Bailey), the owner of the neighbouring property, who tells the tale of an abandoned child who used to live in their house. Whilst Laura awaits her husband’s arrival, she becomes increasingly convinced that there’s somebody watching them.
Where He’s Out There excels is in the way it gradually builds up a growing sense of unease and danger. This is embellished by some lovely cinematography by Ed Wild and Nathan Whitehead’s unnerving soundtrack, which puts you on edge and makes you doubt your own senses. Quinn Lasher flicks the switch halfway in and it starts to revert to a more conventional genre fare. At times it’s difficult to endure a screeching girl and a killer should never have to explain himself. Despite this, He’s Out There is an immersive horror which plays on the terror of hopelessness instead of relying on throwaway jump scares.
He’s Out There is released on DVD and Digital by 101 Films on 24 September.