House Hunting (2013)
This one popped up on Netflix recently and I just loved the description - "Upon entering a deserted farmhouse, two families discover that every attempt to leave takes them right back in." So, I start picturing some sort of low-budget, horror film riffing on such existential/surreal classics like "No Exit", "Solaris", or "Exterminating Angel". Sadly, this film fails to live up to my own imagination. But, the whole thing wasn't a complete wash.
The basic premise is pretty intriguing. Two dysfunctional families are looking for a new house. They both arrive at the same time at a remote farmhouse. Once there, they find that some force is warping space, so that whenever they try to leave the property, they end up right back at the front door.
This is a film that throws a lot of interesting ideas around during its 100 minute run time. One can't criticize the film for being traditional. The acting is solid. Art LaFleur gives the best performance. And Marc Singer (looking more like a tired Kevin Bacon) is passable, even if he spends most of his time looking inappropriately confused. Eric Hurt, the writer, producer, director, and sometimes cameraman, makes a number of interesting directorial choices. And, at first, the overall concept is really pretty interesting as there is lots of mystery and confusing clues to puzzle over as the story unfolds.
On the other hand, there is the actual script. My first problem is that none of the characters are particularly likeable and most go out of their way to be completely unlikeable. I don't mind that they all have deep dark secrets, but they all wear them in big notes safety-pinned to their chests, with only LaFleur's character bringing any surprises when he actually starts to become likeable at moments. Had more characters started out being a bit more sympathetic and friendly with each other, their descent into petty, conniving, territorial bickering might have carried some more weight.
But more problematic was the ending. With all the interesting ideas thrown out there, it's a shame that the film ends with such a cliche conclusion. So, when it's over, the discarded red herrings would have provided a better meal.
I love independent films. I particularly love independent horror films. I find something genuinely inspiring about them. And that can cause me to overlook a lot of flaws. And, as disappointing as this film may have been overall, I still think there was a lot of inspiration to be found. Eric Hurt seems like he might be a director to watch out for, if he can only sharpen up his writing or work off of someone else's material.