The unknown can be scary. As humans, we are programmed to look for, even demand, explanation. When it’s not forthcoming, it can leave us with a hollow uncertainty. There’s a fine balance within storytelling between mystery and contrivance. Often, as much of the work of H.P. Lovecraft attests, ambiguity can leave the longest lasting impression. This is what Jeffrey A. Brown’s feature debut, The Beach House, does so well.
Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall’s (Noah Le Gros) relationship is on the rocks. In order to try and reconnect, they decide to spend a few days at his family’s beach house. As it’s off-season, they appear to have the place to themselves. That is until Mitch (Jake Weber) and Jane (Maryanne Nagel), friends of his father, show up. They find themselves sharing the space, tentatively circling each other. Whilst, outside, something strange is stirring.
What makes The Beach House such a refreshing change is the willingness of its director to immerse the story in an atmosphere of mystery. Taking his cues from the likes of Carpenter and Cronenberg, Brown conjures up a miasma of intrigue. Mixed in with a myriad of other horror elements. Whilst his vision is captivating, it wouldn’t be a success without a brilliant performance from Liberato. Not to mention a soundtrack which skilfully heightens tensions whilst emphasising the eeriness. The Beach House is a thrilling debut.
The Beach House will stream on Shudder (US/Canada/UK) from 9 July.