In the time of COVID-19, admit it- you have spent copious hours planning your vacation for when it’s safe to travel again. At 2:36AM Airbnb is my pornography of choice. I find myself lustfully lost looking at quaint cabins in cool, dark, forests fit for a cottage-core queen… or perhaps a penthouse downtown in a bustling city where I have to pay $38 for one watered down drink (It’s probably called The Rona, and it is a warm beer with a splash of Fireball in it- but quarantine is over, who cares!!!). My favorite dream vacation lands me by the ocean. Typically in these dreams (manifestations) I am with a Timothée Chalamet look-a-like, warm sand between my toes, and sea breeze salts the air of the sleepy town where I booked my vacation. I got this cute little beach bungalow that’s been decorated perfectly by Bobby Berk, and suddenly I also know how to cook and how to drink the correct amount of White Claw and Vodka as to not violently vomit the next day. A perfect Beach House fantasy. The Beach House directed by Jeffrey A. Brown is nothing like my fantasy, but it IS a perfect atmospheric, anxiety inducing, perfect for the summer film.
The Beach House begins like every sweet romantic-getaway flick, collegiate sweethearts Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) are off to their parents beach house for the summer. Liberato and Gros carry this film exquisitely, they have chemistry and a sincerity that heightens throughout the film. Upon reaching their summer destination they meet their parents’ family friends Mitch (Jake Weber) and Jane (Maryann Nagel)- and the four settle in for some wine, good food, and an edible?? What follows is a slow but beautiful descent into confusion and chaos, with scientific and geological undertones thrown in for good measure!
It is relevant to note that The Beach House is helmed by the same team as Take Shelter and The Signal. If you are like me- the paranormal and science are very much interchangeable. When you tell me there are hundreds of bio-luminescent creatures in the ocean or that a bacteria infection can cause the brain to hallucinate giant spiders in the grocery store- these concepts VS being haunted by a deadly VHS tape feel EQUALLY terrifying. The Beach House expertly utilizes the unknown aspects of biology along with psychedelic interference to create an atmosphere where the viewer is truly unsure what is reality and what is a fever dream. The film has a small cast, just two main and two supporting characters- which is a testament to the powerhouse talent of the actors. You won’t get CGI monsters, this isn’t a found footage flick, and there is no hardcore gore or torture in The Beach House. What you will get watching, is a very real visceral and unnerving response that will sit with you after the credits roll. My recommendation? Don’t watch the trailer. When The Beach House drops on Shudder on July 9th, wait till sunset, pour yourself a beach cocktail, sit outside and feel the summer sticky air while nature goes dark around you- hold tight, and press play.
Director/writer: Jeffrey A. Brown
Producers: Andrew Corkin, Tyler Davidson and Sophia Lin
Music by: Roly Porter
Starring: Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, Jake Weber and Maryann Nagel
Available on Shudder beginning July 9th, 2020.