A romantic escape for two college kids goes horribly awry in Jeffrey A. Brown’s feature debut The Beach House, a beautifully-shot indie sci-fi/horror film streaming on Shudder July 9.
Emily (Liana Liberato) heads to Randall (Noah Le Gros)’s family beach house to get away and reconnect after their relationship starts to fizzle — but surprise! Two friends of Randall’s dad are also staying there: Mitch (Jake Weber) and his wife, Jane (Maryann Nagel). The foursome decides to make the best of the situation and share the house for the weekend, bonding over dinner and eventually …. taking some edibles together. You know, as you do, with your father’s friends. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What follows is an intense psychedelic trip for each of them, and by the time Emily and Randall awaken late in the afternoon, Mitch and Jane have disappeared. As the younger couple tries to relax and recover, they start experiencing strange happenings both around them, and within their own bodies.
Brown slowly and subtly drops clues as to what’s happening from the start — and by the time Mitch and Jane resurface, the switch has flipped from uncomfortable weirdness to gnarly tentacled body horror. I legit squirmed more than once!
I *so* appreciate when a writer doesn’t explain exactly what’s happening, and instead just lets the feeling of it wash over you. And though there isn’t much actual splatter, there are some fantastic practical F/X — and a lot of heavy, creepy atmosphere. Some of the shots are downright breathtaking.
Another highlight of the film is that most of the action is centered on Emily, a complex heroine who uses her scientific knowledge to try and save both herself and her boyfriend. Liberato shines in every role I’ve seen her in so far, and she’s radiant in The Beach House.
The film moves a little slowly at first, but give it some time to grab you. There’s a reason it’s been getting some good buzz.