Is any place truly invulnerable? Not really. By their very nature, the invulnerable are completely vulnerable. Confidence is the issue, or more to the point, over-confidence. Those who desperately want a place in your world will find a way in. These are just a couple of the underlying themes of Girlhouse, the thriller that is certain to push a few buttons, both good and bad.
Girlhouse opens with Ted Bundy’s famous quote on pornography that reads:
“I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence. Every one of them was deeply involved in pornography… Porn can reach in and snatch a kid out of any house today. It snatched me out of mine.”
The quote states the intent of director Trevor Matthews. Is the film sexy and exploitative? Of course. But what could have ended up being an unwatchable Maniac knock-off is actually a well acted and disturbing slasher.
Girlhouse begins with a boy. A small fat kid being chased by young two girls. Cornered and taunted, the two girls trick him into pulling his pants down, only to be ridiculed and called “Loverboy” (Isaac Faulkner). The kind of thing that kids do to each other all to often. However, this time there are consequences. On her bike ride home, one of the girls, Camren Bicondova (Selina Kyle on Gotham), is confronted by Loverboy on a bridge. What follows is one of the most disturbing sequences I have ever watched. Age was a factor, but also the sheer honesty of the brutality. Loverboy may have been a shy kid with inner rage, but the incident would shape him. A killer was born.
Cut to the here and now. Kylie (Ali Corbin) is having a bad year. Her father has passed away and she has little in the way of job prospects. With few doors opening up, she takes a job at Girlhouse, a 24 hour live streaming site where the girls are on camera 24/7. The money is good and safety is assured. Her new roommates consist of an assortment of women filling every stereotype and fetish. There’s Kat (Alice Hunter), who acts as her mentor, Kat’s girlfriend Mia (Nicole Fox), bitchy Devon (Alyson Bath), exhibitionist Heather (Elysia Rotaru), and business class babe Janet (Chasty Ballesteros). It is quite the group and Kylie does her best to fit in. Her first day, she gains two admirers, one, a grade school crush named Ben (Adam DiMarco), and the other… Loverboy (Slaine).
At first things are fine, with Kylie doing a privet chat with Loverboy. However, he sends her a photo of himself and Kylie, slightly freaked, leaves it on her computer. Enter mean-spirited junkie, Anna (Zuleyka Silver) who was fired but worms her way back into the house and begins to snoop. She finds Loverboy’s photo and prints it out. Not so bad, right? Well, she then writes a sarcastic message on the picture and posts it on the fridge. Since there are cameras everywhere, Loverboy sees it. Wounded and believing it is Kylie, he wants retribution. Everyone will pay.
Girlhouse makes the argument that no matter the subject, you can make a solid film. The performances by everyone are first-rate and carry the film. There is also a psychological core to the film that sets it apart from 98% of the similar films out there. Quite simply, this film should be on your list.
Ali Corbin is the perfect good girl for our generation. Meaning, the term “good girl” means something different now. Many people criticized Rob Zombie’s version of Laurie Strode but the Jamie Lee Curtis model does not exist in regular society anymore. It is a different age and that must be taken into account. Ali presents us with a young woman who is in a tough spot and takes advantage of the modern world we live in. She comes off completely real and strong.
Slaine is also believable. He has the thankless job of being the killer, but there is a sense of desperation and loneliness about him. The all important rule is that people don’t do evil things to be evil, they do them because they think they’re right. Slaine seems to be coming at the role of Loverboy from that angle and it elevates the role from just being a nameless forgettable psychopath to being a case study.
Though all of the girls give memorable performances and their deaths are heartbreaking, there is one that truly stands out, Devon. Yes, she is the bitchy girl who thinks she’s all that, but that is what makes her death particularly haunting. You don’t expect to feel the way you do when it comes. It is one of the most unsettling on camera deaths in a horror film I have seen in years. Just watch it.
Girlhouse is loaded with T &A, but it brings so much more to the table. It is a well thought out film with some truly disturbing moments that will linger for sometime. From the opening frame to the final black, director Trevor Mathews creates a world as cruel and complicated as any put on-screen. At the same time, nothing seems played for shock value, only to bring truth to the moment. If you are tired of craptastic micro-budget films and found footage fiascoes, Girlhouse is just what the Dr. ordered.