The movie production instincts are on the money, as far as “There’s Someone Inside Your House” goes. Every generation needs its “Scream,” so let’s adapt YA novelist Stephanie Perkins’ book and get it on Netflix where all the YAs’ll see it.
That’s why the biggest names on this project were producers James Wan, the “Saw/Conjuring/Malignant” horror mogul, and Shawn Levy (“Free Guy”).
The movie? Well, it’s a “Scream” knockoff, all right. “Scream” without the horror movie jokes. “Scream” with a lot less terror. “Scream” without much we could call “fun.”
It’s not half bad. But it’s not quite half-good, either.
In Osborne, Nebraska, the parents and their kids are all about corn, “God, His game (football) and his glory.”
That’s what a football player (Zane Clifford) sings through the tears — the Osborne High fight song — in tribute to his dead teammate (Markian Tarasiuk) whom we’ve seen trapped in his house and butchered in the somewhat blase opening scene.
The school and even the town are littered with suspects. But it’s not until a second death that anybody gets truly concerned.
That’s a big of-its-moment take-away from “There’s Someone Inside Your House.” This is America today, and school and football must go on — violence, pandemic, attempted coup, crisis actors invading school board meetings be damned.
The “outcast” kids — Makani (Sydney Park), her BFF Alex (Asjha Cooper), trans pal Darby (Jesse LaTourette), rich kid Zach (Dale Whibley) and Rodrigo (Diego Josef) have their theories. Everybody in school does.
But as classmates keep dropping, their “secrets” exposed on email blasts just as they’re hacked up by a nut-with-a-knife in a mask (custom made to match the victim’s face) and hoodie, the “whodunit” here never gets traction. We’re all distracted by the “secrets.”
No, not the gay footballer or the trans teen. Everybody knows them. It’s the “secret” bullying, the hazing rituals that got out of hand, the closeted white supremacist and the nervous kid on medication who have something to worry about.
Whatever the virtues of the source novel, screenwriter Henry Gayden and director Patrick Brice (“Creep,” “The Overnight”) miss a lot of opportunities to riff on this latest “Me” generation and its excesses.
Surely the student council president (Sarah Dugdale) isn’t the only one who makes this tragedy, and the organized mourning for it, all about “her.”
“There’s Someone” can be praised for its inclusion. A Pacific Islander lead (Park), a gay kid, a trans kid, the Hispanic classmate, the brassy African-American who gets to declare “I’m DONE talking about who I think did it. I KNOW who did it!” But when you do little with the characters, or with who they “represent,” your movie looks an awful lot like “checkbox casting.” You’re populating your picture with “types,” not people.
Even the set piece murders — in a cathedral, in a “secrets” party where the kids are to reveal their secrets and thus disempower the killer, in a corn maze — all play as flat, like a balloon that the air went out of just before “ACTION!”
That makes the entire enterprise feel like, well, an “enterprise,” a thriller “produced,” not cleverly scripted or directed, or compellingly acted.
Rating: TV-MA, bloody violence, drug use, sexual situations, profanity
Cast: Sydney Park, Asjha Coooper, Jesse LaTourette, Théodore Pellerin, Dale Whibley, Sarah Dugdale
Credits: Directed by Patrick Brice, scripted by Henry Gayden, based on the novel by Stephanie Perkins. An Atomic Monster film on Netflix.
Running time: 1:36