As we close in on October 31, AiPT! will be reviewing and recommending various pieces of underappreciated scary media—books, comics, movies, and television—to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way to Halloween.
Okay, I’m going to start this review by being honest: Yes, this is a found footage film. But stick with me and I promise not to lead you astray. Home Movie is not another shaky cam crapfest. In fact, it’s unlike any horror movie you’ll ever see.
David and Clare Poe have what by all appearances is a happy marriage. Despite the fact that he’s a devout priest and she’s an atheist child psychologist, they somehow work, both as smitten spouses and devoted parents. Their twin children, on the other hand, are a little…off.
While David and Clare exist in a state of gregarious joy, the kids are oddly sullen and silent. This weird family dichotomy is revealed through home movies (mostly shot by David) recorded during holidays and special events. They also do things that seem innocent—like only speaking to each other in a language they made up—that morph into unsettling norms.
As the months go by, the twins’ bizarre behavior begins to escalate into something much more sinister. Dropping plates on the floor and throwing rocks at their father gives way to animal torture and biting their classmates at school.
David is convinced that his children’s souls are under attack by a demonic force. Clare believes that they’re suffering from severe mental illness. As the twins’ behavior becomes more destructive and dangerous, their parents become madly determined to rescue them from themselves.
But what if they don’t want to be saved?
I love movies that make you guess between supernatural or scientific phenomena, especially when the overarching narrative can make both possibilities work. The twins, played by Amber and Austin Williams, do a fantastic job selling both sides as plausible sources of their corruption. Their performance is creepy and terrifying as hell, but you’ll find yourself occasionally feeling sorry for them.
Adrian Pasdar and Cady McClain are great as well, providing severely convincing arguments for their respective beliefs while their lives continue to unravel around their children.
But the real MVP for this one is writer/director Christopher Denham, who checks all the boxes for making a classic horror movie.
First and foremost, he constructs a film that’s scary as hell. The Creepy Kids trope has been done to death, but Denham proves it can still be effective with the right pacing and contrast. Watching the happy adults spiral downward while the children come out of their evil little shells is a truly chilling experience.
You might think that a movie with such an obvious (yet still enjoyable) plot arc would lead to a predictable ending, but Denham manages to subvert expectations there, too. The film keeps you guessing right up until the end…which was so disturbing that—no joke—I was unable to go to sleep the first night after I watched it.
Denham also adds in a TON of little details to look for during repeat viewings. For those of you who have already seen Home Movie (or just really dig intricate foreshadowing), watch for a couple things:
– When David sprays one of the kids with a water gun, keep an eye on how the other reacts.
– Pay attention to shots featuring the twins’ stuffed dragon toy—and the drawing of it that they made.
What Doesn’t Work
Thanks to this film, I get a little nervous now whenever I hear the ice cream truck music in my neighborhood.
Home Movie isn’t just a good horror film. It’s a criminally underrated classic. It’s also one of the best advertisements for birth control ever made. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you don’t have to be up early the next morning and go do so now.
I dare you to watch until it’s done.
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