Scotty Landes and Tate Taylor
Story by Scotty Landes
Starring: Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, Corey Fogelmanis, Luke Evans
Budget $5M Box Office $61.1M
IMDb 5.6/10 Rotten Tomatoes 55% Metacritic NO DATA IndieWire 2/5
I wanted to watch this because it’s listed as a psychological thriller and from the general description that was on the cable summary, it reminded me of a couple of true crime cases I had heard about.
The basic premise is this: A middle aged woman named Sue Ann works as a vet tech in the local vet clinic in a small town where she grew up. Needless to say, she’s a quiet woman with a soft, loving smile and that genuine church lady love kind of voice that you just can’t walk away from, ya know? She just seems like such a sweet gal.
Flash to our other characters: A group of misguided teenagers (Maggie, new in town and new to school, Haley, Darrell, Chaz and Andy, who ends up dating Maggie) always looking for someone to buy their liquor and a place to party. Now, I never had to do this because I hung out with slightly older kids and they always had older siblings or parents even that would buy us alcohol and let us drink at their house (don’t OMG me people, this was a different time!). However, these kids know the struggle I don’t, so what they have to do is stand outside the liquor store and ask random strangers to buy their goods. (Like really, does that shit eve work? Do adults really do that? How do you know these kids aren’t plants by the cops? Moving on…)
So, that’s how they meet Sue Ann. She’s walking her dog and passes by the store and Maggie, the newest addition to the group because she’s the new girl at school, is standing outside and does the approach and ask on Sue Ann. And it works. Then Sue Ann becomes their regular hook up. But even more so, she offers up her basement as their party pad so they aren’t drinking and doing drugs out in the open. They’ll be safe at her house.
[I have to interject here with some logic from a cop’s kid. Okay, even at seventeen years old, if some random older woman who was willing to break the law to buy me and my friends alcohol wanted all of us to come party at her house which is not in the suburbs, but off in the woods, my answer would not only have been no, it would have been hell no. I would have NEVER gone from point A to point B with a stranger to a basement with the intention of getting all trashed and drugged and liquored up. Ummm hello??? Where’s those brain cells???? Moving on…again…]
So, being teenagers, they think this is the PERFECT setup and are all in. And at first, it’s great. They party, they get drunk, they get high. Sue Ann has established the rules, which are: Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain, Never go upstairs EVER and Call her Ma. So, they have fun, Ma has fun. And things are raging like a techno club for a while.
But then, as it always does, real life sets in and these kids have to go to school and do homework, extracurricular activities, sports, spend time with their families. And eventually, they get kind of tired of Ma always wanting to be around. See, she’s strangely sort of just inserted herself right in the middle of their “circle” (you know how it is in school), and it makes the kids uncomfortable. Not to mention that things start getting weird at Ma’s house and some people’s belongings start going missing, things become fuzzy and hazy and questions start being raised.
What these kids don’t know is that Ma grew up with their parents. And that for some people, high school never ends.
I have to be honest, when I first watched this movie and I got through the whole thing, originally, I felt a little dejected. But after thinking on it for a couple of days, I really think this is truly the kind of movie that will grow on you. There are some things in it that have just stuck with me, just kind of interesting, I think. I don’t want to tell you what they are because I don’t want to spoil the movie. But, after rethinking my original reaction, I think I reacted harshly.
Octavia Spencer is great in this movie. We always see her in this role of love and care and support, like the loving mother or the supportive caretaker or the strong supportive female friend, etc. But in this film, she really comes out of her shell and pulls a complete switch on us. This is a side of Spencer that we have not seen, but that she was especially good at showing. I give her fantastic praise for her performance in this film. She creeped me the hell out, that’s for sure.
So, DO give this film a chance. And if you feel a little, say, shortchanged at the end, do what I did and go over the film in your head a bit and sit on it. It’s not for gore. It’s psychological. Remember that and I think you’ll enjoy the film much, much more.
Starring: Michael Ealy, Meagan Good, Joseph Sikora, Dennis Quaid
IMDb 5.5/10 Rotten Tomatoes 32% Metacritic 39/100
Budget $5-8M Box Office $36.6M
Let’s take a little trip down imaginary lane. I want you to pretend that you’re newly married. And you and your new spouse are wanting to start a family. But not just in any regular old cookie cutter home in the suburbs. You guys decide to buy a house outside of town, like in the country type kind of place. The kind of place that is surrounded by big, beautiful trees and scores of flowers and foliage everywhere you turn. It’s quiet, away from neighbors and the hustle and bustle of the city. More importantly, it got acreage, lots of room for kids to run and play and grow up. And you find this house on the outskirts of town and man is it perfect. It’s everything you are looking for. You talk to the seller; he seems to be a nice guy. He gets what you might consider to be somewhat personal but hey, he’s just being friendly like most country folk, just small talkin’. After a little dealing and signing some papers this dream house you’ve picked out is ALL YOURS.
Or is it?
Imagine, no sooner do you get moved into your new home and the previous owner starts popping up. First with housewarming gifts and such and he DOES seem like he misses the house so why not invite him to the housewarming party, right? Have some dinner with friends, maybe some wine and talk about what you want to do to the house to make it more “YOU”. Isn’t that what people do?
Little do you know that your previous owner has a hard time letting go of things. He doesn’t like being cast aside or slighted, he doesn’t like having to have sold his home and he sure as hell doesn’t want you changing everything in HIS HOUSE. Imagine you start putting up, say, security cameras and the old owner comes up and tells the workers to halt working and starts yelling about holes being put in HIS house. HIS house? Remember, you just bought this house. Don’t forget that. This is your property. Then the previous owner starts showing up unannounced and at inconvenient times.
What’s worse is that as a man in this situation, you also realize old owner dude has fixated on your wife. And I mean like stalker, gets inside your house and watches you shower and sleep, kind of fixated. Imagine what it would be like to be terrorized like that and not being able to really do anything about it. The law is slow and skeptical when it comes to matters like stalking and harassment.
We all know that this is going to come down to which man wins the fight defending his castle. So, who will it be?
I really liked this movie. I thought Dennis Quaid was great. I don’t normally picture him in a role like this but, I think he really did pull it off quite well. There is definitely a true on the edge of your seat kind of suspense factor. The kind where you want to yell at the actors to do something or not to do something, tell them to turn around, not to answer that door…etc. That ambiance is well kept throughout the whole movie.
I also didn’t feel like there were really any holes in the plot line. It’s something I often look for, especially in stories involving crime, the legal system, etc. There is a point where you start to kind of feel for the previous owner, I suppose some people would anyways, but then, as it always goes, the true colors come out and you see who you are REALLY dealing with.
I don’t quite know if this movie centers around the married couple or if it centers around the previous whacko owner. It really seems to focus on the owner quite a bit. It’s almost as if he’s running the roller coaster and the married couple, and whoever else gets in the way, are just along for the wild, twisted ride.
This film is also kind of an eye opener about what people can be like when it comes to being forced out of their homes…and their lives. Sometimes people can’t take the stress. Sometimes they take up oil painting or wood carving. And sometimes, they go attack people they feel have wronged them and helped put them in their current position. (Hey, I’m not saying that’s right, I’m just saying it happens.)
So, other than entertainment value, if you take anything away from this film, it should be this:
Don’t become friendly with the previous owner of your new house.
Happy house hunting my ghoulish friends!