Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Happy House: They’re Dying to Checkout
you can’t afford the local wannabe Bates Motel, you can probably get hacked up
for less at a bed & breakfast.
B&B’s are homier and more personal.
That’s why we stay in hotels. One
quarreling Brooklyn couple checks into a Hudson Valley B&B largely out of spite
and passive aggression. It would have
been a terrible weekend anyway, but things take a deadly turn in screenwriter-director
D.W. Young’s horror movie send-up The Happy
opens tomorrow in New York.
and her son Skip run the Happy House B&B with a strict set of rules their
guests must abide by. Wendy would not be
inclined to follow them even under the best of circumstances. Barely on
speaking terms with her slacker boyfriend Joe (who had the bright idea to take
this trip in the first place), she will be a somewhat difficult guest. Hildie will not appreciate that, not one
little bit. She duly warns the couple
there are consequences for amassing “three strikes.”
slow out of the blocks, Happy mostly
forces its early attempts at laughs, but it makes an interesting pivot about
halfway through. The red district (you
can’t say “red state” in New York) gun-owning, God fearing rubes might not be
as crazy as Wendy and Joe had first thought.
Odder still, the film essentially evolves into what it had previously mocked,
becoming a surprisingly presentable And
then There were None style cat and mouse game.
Happy was shot within
a functioning B&B in a region of New York State that had just been pummeled
by Hurricane Irene, so it earns good karma for bringing some business to
town. Indeed, the Happy House looks
authentic and lived-in, because it was (Young and his co-leads even stayed
there as guests during filming). The cuckoo
clocks are also a nice touch, but it seems like there ought to be more
is a bit overstuffed with colorful characters though. Marceline Hugot brings considerable depth and
nuance to the seemingly authoritarian Hildie.
Likewise, Kathleen McNenny is a stitch as Linda, her leftwing English
professor sister. However, Happy lays it on a bit thick with the
absent-minded Swedish lepidopterist staying at the fateful B&B in hopes of
finding a rare butterfly. Perhaps more
problematically, Khan Baykal and Aya Cash just make a boring couple as Joe and
In terms of execution, Happy is a dramatically mixed bag.
The DIY look does not help much either.
Still, Young incorporates some interesting ideas, consistently avoiding
or subverting clichés. It will not be a breakout film, but horror movie fans
might enjoy the ways it tweaks genre conventions, especially an inspired bit at
the climax. For the intrigued, The Happy House opens tomorrow (5/3) in
New York at the Cinema Village.
Labels: Horror Movies, Movie Spoofs