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January 6, 2014


Home Sweet Home

by Franz Patrick

Home Sweet Home (2013)
★★ / ★★★★

While a married couple, Sara (Meghan Heffern) and Frank (Adam MacDonald), are out on a date, a man (Shaun Benson) breaks into their home. He disables the alarm, goes through their things, and screws the windows tight. He changes into a special suit in order to minimize what the cops might gather from the scene of the crime. He wears a mask to conceal his identity. Meanwhile, Sara and Frank enter the house. They had a good time outside and are now planning to have a good time inside. The intruder awaits.

During its first half, I was elated because writer-director David Morlet seems to want to create a different kind of horror picture, one that abstains from pouring pitchers of blood right from the get-go. But somewhere in the middle, it loses not only its brain but also its technique. Suddenly we are in a familiar territory: a woman, terrorized and out of breath, attempting to escape a man wearing a mask. Nothing exciting happens.

Movies that take their time to present details should be valued more. The film has a great one-two punch. First, the isolated shots of every room in the house. We get familiar with them. We have a relative idea which rooms connect where. It establishes a feeling that we, like the masked man, are not supposed to be there.

Second, we follow the intruder go around the house. He is no ordinary trespasser. Not a word is spoken. Through his actions, we learn he is not a thief. Maybe it is not his first time—to do what he is there to do or being that house. He is sort of a fetishist. He takes pleasure touching the things the couple has touched. He examines the objects as if he were admiring pieces in a museum. By taking its time, it accomplishes two things: creating a sense of space and us getting to know the intruder a little bit.

It is curious why Morlet did not writer smarter potential victims. While Frank is more silly than charming, most frustrating is Sara’s astronomical lack of common sense. Eventually, she gets a cell phone. Who does she call? The sheriff’s office where she knows that she is likely to reach not a person but a voicemail. (It is suggested the couple lives in the middle of nowhere.) Has she not heard of—oh, I don’t know—911? There are less numbers and it does not require her to speak while the masked man looks for her. Just whisper, “Send help!”, put the phone in silent underneath a stack of clothes (or something—the point is to hide it), and a brigade will come.

I suppose perhaps that is the point. It allows Sara to get caught, get hurt, and get chased all over again. But why not end the movie when the situation calls for it? No pun intended. By dragging it along, “Home Sweet Home” gets mired in boring formulas and settles for mediocrity instead of making a statement.

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. GaryLee828
    Jan 6 2014

    This was one of the most intriguing villains I’ve seen in a long time; part of his mystery was his silence, which I think more villains should be. I hate when villains try to intimidate with their dialogue and their words come up flat. In addition, I did not see the ending coming. I actually did not think:


    He was going to rise back up and stab her. I understand that happens in a lot of horror movies, but that’s typically with supernatural villains. Most mortal men, as this villain was, die after being stabbed or shot, etc. On top of that, I didn’t expect the intruder to be who he turned out to be. But when he rose up and stabbed her I thought that was some of the best and most effective directing I’ve seen in a horror film; it happened SO FAST! There was no lead-up to suggest he was coming back which I thought was genius b/c I get tired of seeing cliche shots where the music tells you what’s about to transpire. This did not do that, so the surprise factor was there. Which I found extremely refreshing and well-executed.

    A lot of people complain about the first half and say it’s “slow” and “boring”, but I think it’s creepy, as hell; this dude is walking through your house and going through all of your things and eats your food, and watches your TV and simply waits for you to come home so he can murder you. I thought the build-up was tense.

    This movie could have been really good had they hired a better actor to play the husband and written the wife to not be so asinine.


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