★★★.5 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Jeffrey A. Brown
If you’re not completely freaked out by the current pandemic, the strange and uneven response to the greatest crisis the world’s faced in the modern era, then have we got a film for you! This is not a fun filled family fete at the beach, oh no, The Beach House is a dark and twisted look at our current state of affairs filtered through the very real possibility that the worst is yet to come.
Don’t be turned off by the name, The Beach House is a rather well concocted and thoughtful look at the aging process, global pandemics, and very possibly, our other-worldly Lovecraftian origins. The Beach House (a Shudder original), directed by first time feature length director, Jeffrey A. Brown, follows a young couple who’ve decided to escapes the pressures of college with an extended trip to the family beach house. Randall (Noah LeGros: Depraved) and his girlfriend Emily (Liana Liberato: Haunt) head to his father’s beach house for some respite only to discovery that it’s already inhabited! Well, not inhabited in the scary ghostly sense, but there’s a couple there who claim to be long time friends of Randall’s father. After some brief and hyper-awkward introductions, Mitch (Jake Weber: Dawn of the Dead remake) and Jane (Maryann Nagel) explain that Randall’s dad agreed to let them use the beach house. While Jane is clearly a little addled and possibly in the throes of end of life decisions, Mitch convinces Randall and Emily that a fun evening of dinner and family lore is just the what they need.
After a little beer, and little wine, and a gang of oysters, Randall discloses that he’s got just the thing to take the party into the stratosphere — edible marijuana! Mitch and Jane quickly consult each other and decide that this is just the trip they need to take to dust off their aging cobwebs. Once firmly in the their trip Emily begins to discuss her post graduate study hopes in the field of astrobiology, aka exobiology, aka learning the alien-like Lovecraftian origins of the universe. Emily calmly explains in stoner terminology and cadence that there’s a real chance a lifeforms landed on earth at some point and started the entire biological evolutionary space that we’re now living in.
A couple vinyl LPs, some more wine, and some astro-psychedelic space talk take over the evening as the foursome begins to realize that the fog outside is glowing! The flourescent glowing fog, enhanced by the edibles and a belly full of wine quickly find this blurry foursome wandering outside and taking in the tainted atmospheric conditions. The following morning, replete with significant hangovers, the foursome all begin to exhibit horrifying side effects — not from the wine and weed, but from their new viral inhabitants.
Each of the four becomes infected at different rates and exhibits slightly different maladies, but it’s not until Emily discovers a small colony of cow-sized, potsticker-looking, alien pods that things begin to quickly fall to pieces. Jane’s impossibly infirm, Mitch looses his mind, Randall’s got a mighty gastrointestinal ailment, and Emily is left to try and figure out if there’s a way out of this ancient pandemic.
Make no mistake, this quiet and calm affair doesn’t stay quiet and calm for long. When the viral glowing space fog takes over, it takes over quickly, ruthlessly, and deliberately. It’s clear that viruses have no ill intent, other than the need to survive. It’s their time to shine and it’s mankind’s time to sunset. It’s really that simple. The universe is full of winner’s and losers and The Beach House has humans on the losing end of this biological armageddon. Director Jeffrey A. Brown develops a wonderful story, complete with gnarly body horror, and some simple and well boxed in acting and story telling. The Beach House does a wonderful job of helping us all process the quick, unrelenting, and valueless way that viruses spread. It’s not the viral glowing space fog’s fault, it’s just doing its job.
The Beach House is likely Rated R and currently streaming on Shudder.