Everyone’s after original content these days, and Netflix in particular seems to be cultivating a horror content niche. After the huge success of Stranger Things, the streaming giant has gone all-in on the concept, from in-house originals like Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting Of series, to acquisitions like Fear Street trilogy, the upcoming K-horror Hellbound, and more.
There’s Someone Inside Your House is one of the newer acquisitions falling under the horror umbrella, recently premiering at Fantastic Fest and debuting on Netflix Oct. 6, just in time for spooky season. Based on a novel of the same name by Stephanie Perkins, There’s Someone Inside Your House is a teen slasher film in the styling of 90s horror greats. Directed by Patrick Brice (Creep, The Overnight), the brisk 96-minute film follows a group of high school teenagers who are navigating the brutal murder of a classmate.
As you might expect, the first murder isn’t where the story stops. The bodies begin to pile up, and with them, secrets about the recently deceased. Racism, bullying, violence – the victims all harbor secrets, which are exposed by the killer, who symbolically wears a 3D-printed mask of his chosen victim’s face right before murdering them. Student Makani Young (Sydney Park) witnesses the murders and begins to wonder if her own secret, which is slowly unraveled throughout the film, will be exposed next.
The first 15 minutes are There’s Someone Inside Your House at its best. Invoking Drew Barrymore’s infamous opening scene in Scream, this opening focuses instead on a male protagonist who is being targeted by the killer while trapped alone in his own home. It’s an interesting inversion to have the first gory kill go to a male character, and emblematic of the kind of messaging There’s Someone Inside Your House is going for. Makani and her group of friends are the cut from the typical too-old-and-too-gorgeous-to-be-outcasts mold, but with an extra eye to diversity.
It’s 2021, after all, and There’s Someone Inside Your House bakes societal and cultural awareness into its bones, positioning its by-the-numbers slasher template with of-the-moment themes, like performative wokeness vs. the cancel-worthy secrets lurking in everyone’s closets. In its best moments, There’s Someone Inside Your House adds some sleek updates to the 90s template that make it more interesting: the 3D printed mask of each victim, for example, and the way the killer baits each victim with proof of his or her wrongdoing. The killer’s motive, reasoning, and methods are also an interesting idea launching from that unique twist.
That twist is also the film’s own undoing, though. There’s Someone Inside Your House is exactly the kind of film that could have a director open the script, scratch out roughly 40% of the film’s dialogue, and make the jump from a decent film to a great one. The problem isn’t that There’s Someone Inside Your House has a message – it’s the way it beats you over the head with it, with 16-year-olds delivering far too on-the-nose, with a script stuffed to the brim with attempts at insight to make sure you don’t miss a single clever thing it has to say. A version of this film that trusts its audience to let the ideas land more naturally would have been a far more enjoyable ride.
Still, There’s Someone Inside Your House is largely a well-crafted, well-acted horror flick with a satisfyingly economical runtime and plenty of fun scares to boot. Anyone who’s a fan of Scream and the rush of 90s horror films that followed in its wake will likely enjoy this 2021 update, even if it doesn’t reach the heights of its muse.