Attacking the Porn Industry – Girlhouse (DVD Review)

I have always believed that there are three categories of slasher movie. The first, the truly terrifying, spine-tingling delight that continues to haunt every dark corridor for weeks to come. The likes of Halloween and Scream have continued to terrify generations of new audiences in the decades since their releases.  The second is the “so bad it’s brilliant” kind of affair that is simply so very laughable that it somehow becomes a classic. Films such as Cherry Falls and Sleepaway Camp are just so wonderfully shlocky that they are worth endless inebriated viewings. And then there is the third, unfortunately more abundant category of thoroughly mediocre movies that fall into the annals of forgettable anonymity. I’d name a few, but typically, I’ve forgotten them…

Unfortunately, despite its best efforts, Jon Knautz and Trevor Matthews’ latest offering, Girlhouse, falls rather splendidly into this third category.

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Set in the eponymous GirlHouse (a modernistic hybrid of the Big Brother house and the Playboy Mansion), we meet typical horror heroine Kylie Atkins (Ali Cobrin – Bad Neighbours, American Reunion), who in her girl-next-door fashion has embarked on a career in webcamming at the house in order to pay for her college degree and help her ailing mother.  Unsurprisingly, she quickly becomes the website’s brightest star, much to the chagrin of the other housemates, and soon catches the eye of a socially awkward young psychopath going by the moniker of “Loverboy”. Cue stalking, screaming and a half decent helping of decapitation.

Girlhouse does very well to tick every box in the Idiots Guide to Slasher Films, but therein seals its own demise; in trying so very hard to become the next great horror film, it manages to be little more than a series of annoying clichés and throwbacks, creating its very own list of unoriginal “worst decisions ever made by the cast of a horror movie”.

The sad thing is, there are some real glimmers of promise from this rising directorial team; the combination of voyeurism and traditional slasher seems, amidst the cavalcade of found-footage monstrosities we have been bombarded with over the last decade, to be the next natural evolutionary step for the genre, and the film’s opening sequence in which we are presented with Loverboy’s “origin” story is possibly one of the greatest first gambits in a slasher since Michael Myers walked out onto that darkened street thirty-seven years ago. There are also some very inventive deaths, the stand-out being a very Final Destination-esque sauna caper.

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Unfortunately, it all falls rather flat somewhere along the way. The characters are neither original nor appealing enough to gain our sympathy, and at times I found myself wondering if we had actually seen some of the girls prior to their deaths.  The opening title card, proudly throwing out a quote from Ted Bundy about the connection between serial killers and pornography seems rather fatuous, especially considering our killer’s reign of terror began far before his discovery of the site.

All in all, Girlhouse may never be considered a classic of the genre, but there are certainly worse ways to kill a couple of hours. Or porn stars.

 

2/5

 

Dir: Jon Knautz, Trevor Matthews

Scr: Nick Gordon

Starring: Ali Cobrin, Adam DiMarco, Slaine

Prd: Nick Gordon, Trevor Matthews, Cory Neal

DOP: Chris Norr

Music: tomandandy

Country: USA

Year: 2014

Run time: 99mins

 

Girlhouse is available on DVD from 20 July via Signature Entertainment.

 

Check out a scene of terror as the killer strikes below: