The Beach House
the beach house | jeffrey a. brown | liana liberato | noah le gros | jake weber | lovecraftian | contained | infection | parasite | maryann nagel | drama | mystery | united states | michael brumfield | matt maisto | steven corkin | dan zakarija | veronica fellman
Film: The Beach House
Director: Jeffrey A. Brown
Writer: Jeffrey A. Brown
Starring: Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros and Jake Weber
This was a movie that I heard about when it came to the streaming channel of Shudder. With the whole pandemic thing going on, it has made it a bit more interesting here in 2020 to keep up with my goal of watching a new release horror film each week. This did come out in a stretch where a few got their release, so I finally gave this a viewing. I’ve heard a few podcasts bring this up, but I came in pretty blind for the most part as none really went in depth with their reviews of it. The synopsis here is a romantic getaway for two troubled college sweethearts turns into a struggle for survival when unexpected guests – and the surrounding environment – exhibit signs of a mysterious infection.
What I like about this movie is that we kick it off with footage of the ocean and we go under the water. We’re seeing what looks like smoke as it rises from the depths. There is no text or any explanation of what we’re seeing, but this will play into things later. We then see the beach before going to a car. It arrives at a beach house.
Inside of the vehicle is our couple of Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros). His father owns the place and from what Randall states, since it is off-season no one is using it. The first thing they do is go up to a room and have sex as well.
Afterwards we start to get a better idea of their relationship. Emily gets up to go to the bathroom and Randall asks her what she’s doing. It is tense, but it ends there. She does her business and washes her hands. She notices the water is thicker than normal and has what looks to be a slimy consistency. That’s not all she finds. There are a bunch of pills in the medicine cabinet. This causes her to go downstairs to see that it appears someone is staying here as there are dishes in the sink. That’s when someone comes in. Emily hides against the wall and sneaks back up to the room.
She relays what she’s found to Randall and the two of them investigate. The woman we saw earlier seemed to have heard Emily and she’s just as nervous. Her name is Jane (Maryann Nagel) and she soon joined by her husband Mitch (Jake Weber). It appears that Randall’s father told them they could stay here. The movie doesn’t relay it to us yet, but Jane is dying. They’re staying here to get away and to make her a bit more comfortable from what I gather.
Randall hasn’t been speaking to his father, so he had no idea. Both couples though try to make the best of it and have dinner together. It is here we learn that Randall is lost with what to do with life so he dropped out of college. Emily on the other hand wants to go to graduate school. She is studying chemistry and wants to go into astrobiology. The movie does well at explaining what this means and it plays into some aspects later in the movie. Randall wants her to leave school to be with him though.
Things take a turn when Randall offers everyone edible marijuana. It is a bit more potent than the others were expecting and it makes them question some of the things they’re seeing outside. It appears like the phytoplankton you can see in the water is all over the trees and things outside. This isn’t normal though and what is really going on here might be much worse than any of them could ever dream.
Now that is where I want to leave my recap as I feel that gets you up to speed with what this movie is about without going into spoilers. What I will say is that this movie felt a lot like The Bay to me, but not as good. To not necessarily spoil things, there is just something that is natural in the ocean and that how humans treat the environment could be the explanation for everything that we’re getting here. I will admit though this movie is a bit heavy handed with presenting this information.
The reason I say this is that it feels a bit heavy handed with Emily and her background. This isn’t her beach house, so by having her be the main character for this feels like the movie is forcing it so we can have her reveal things that she knows. There were a few times that she’s going way too scientific for things. I’m not saying she wouldn’t be in these moments. Heck, I’m a bit of nerd and I tend to go on rants like she does. That’s not the problem that I have here. What I do have an issue with is that it doesn’t feel natural for me. For another comparison of how to do it better would be like I saw in a film earlier this year of Sea Fever.
Don’t get me wrong though as I don’t want you to think that I hated it. That is not the case. Emily bringing up during the talk when we learn what she wants to study is interesting. Studying life in extreme conditions, like she said at the bottom of the ocean is something that intrigues me. It does, because the bottom of the ocean terrifies me. This film hints at global warming could be the cause of things. What I like here is that it subtle does this with CB radio and a normal AM news station.
What is interesting is the timing of this movie coming out. This was made in 2019 so it was making its festival rounds then. Having an infection like we get in this movie is an interesting watch while living in this pandemic. This is much different from the movie, but in the same vein. I did enjoy that, but I know not everyone will. I really can’t fault someone who is bothered by the current state of the world and not wanting to see this for some escapism.
Since this is a contained movie, which I’m a fan of as well, we only have 4 characters here. We really get a night and then into the next day for everything that goes down. Liberato is our star and I think that she’s fine in that role. My only issue would end up being that I think how things were written to relay information is the problem, not her performance. Le Gros is a jerk, but I think he plays it just fine for the movie. He is the embodiment of what ‘boomers’ think ‘millennials’ are. Technically though, he is acting more like a Gen Z. I do like Weber and I think his role here is good in support. Nagel is solid as well. She does so well at playing someone who is in a lot of pain. It is sad at times for sure.
What I think I should shift over to next would be the effects. I think they do some really good things here without using a whole lot. I love the idea that the first night everyone is high so we’re questioning the things we’re seeing. The movie then does some things with fog that I can get behind. The lighting really helps in those situations with different color ones which is appreciate. There are some really creepy creature effects in this movie. What they do with people’s eyes made me uncomfortable and then near the climax we get an interesting look at what eventually happens to all of these people who are infected. It all looked to be practical and I’m a fan there.
Now with that said, I feel like this movie does do some interesting things. I like the idea this movie sets up with the isolation being at this beach house off-season. It helps to build that contained feel. We have a small cast that do really well in my opinion. The subject matter might be a bit heavy for some people, especially during the times we’re living in, but it does bring some social commentary there. The effects, lighting and cinematography were all good as well. If I do have any issues, this movie is just doing some things that I’ve seen better, even by movies released here in the same year. It is a bit heavy handed there would hurt it. Not a bad movie by any stretch, but just falls short of being good for me though.
My Rating: 7 out of 10