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[CFF ’22] ‘Chicken House’ review: Coming of age with the help of LDS and a poltergeist

Plenty of fish jokes.

Chicken House is a movie that is easy to sum up but impossible to describe. The movie is about three actresses who share a home in a small town in Oklahoma. When a new roommate moves in, the lives of everyone are changed. Things start off in an almost Real World documentary style. There are interviews with the roommates and hints of a strange situation. Chicken House quickly tossed aside notions of skewering reality television. It would definitely be a mistake to label it a mockumentary.

Instead, it is something indescribable and more creative. Using differing elements, its story soon delves into the supernatural, tackles religion, and handles questions of identity. The ghostly element of Chicken House is mainly played for laughs, and the talk of religion is isolated to very specific moments. The main focus of the film is about the characters trying to find themselves.

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It is interesting watching each roommate trying to make their way through life. (There is also a member of The Church of Latter-day Saints who has an epiphany, but it is the women who command the most attention.) Though they are all in a similar situation, each person is unique, making Chicken House an engaging watch. The plot makes sure none of the characters are left in the background and flesh them all out.

Writer-director Cate Jones (who also plays Cat) weaves between black and white and color to differentiate moments. There is some great camerawork in Chicken House, with the use of mirrors standing out. The movie is based almost entirely in the same house, but it nothing ever feels rehashed. There are no big set pieces here, but the film never looks for feels like it was shot in nine days on $17,000.

[CFF '22] 'Chicken House' review: Coming of age with the help of LDS and a poltergeist

By the time final credits roll, the most people will probably be left wondering exactly what it was they just watched. The plot touches on familiar ideas – sexuality, finding oneself, religion – but it does so in its own unique way. Chicken House may not be easy to categorize by genre, but it is an entertaining watch. And that is the best category of all.


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