Girlhouse (18) | Home Ents Review
Dir. Trevor Matthews, US, 2014, 95 mins
Cast: Ali Cobrin, Adam DiMarco, Slaine, Alyson Bath, Elysia Rotaru, Alice Hunter, Chasty Ballesteros, Nicole Fox
Kylie (Cobrin) is a college student struggling with class, rent and bills. When she’s offered the opportunity to work part time at Girlhouse, a live-streaming, Big Brother-style house of web cam girls, she worries about the morals. For a minute, screentime.
One of her online viewers, Loverboy (Slaine), is a very disturbed young man. He has weight issues and a mannekin with a synthetic mask on it in his wankpad/ bedroom. He has also killed before, as a child: a girl who laughed at his willy.
Hacking the site’s complex security protocols, Loverboy sets out to meet the girl of his dreams – but first he has to set the record straight with those other giggling, siliconed girls …
The directorial debut from actor Trevor Matthews is technically very proficient, with crosscuts from the several narrative threads, held together by the online activity, adding tension; but somehow this proficiency detracts from the nastiness of the film. It comes across as a bit too squeaky clean, despite some unpleasant, sexualized murders.
It is brutal, but with sharp edits leaving you to infer much of what you think you have seen. This is, of course, one of the ways film makers ‘self censor’, but it appears not to have worked here, as the film received an 18 certificate anyway. So, I’d argue, why not pull the stops out with the explicit violence, if not the sexualized nudity? I mean, Trevor and his team probably filmed each act of violence through to ‘fruition’, so let’s see it!
I realise that’s not a popular position to take – where would it end? – and can only claim the attenuating circumstances of growing up in the 80s and getting pissed off by the imbecile cuts made by the BBFC to so-called video nasties.
I watched Girlhouse once and thought ‘Get a move on!’ several times. It didn’t seem that brutal, because of the cross cuts which even interrupt murder sequences (but at least these interruptions are thematised by the online viewer angle).
It was only when I realized I couldn’t remember who had been despatched and how – possibly another effect of too many cross-cuts – that I fast forwarded through the film to each murder. Alone or even linked together in a sequence, the murders are brutal, horrific; so I wondered what anti-Kuleshov Effect was working here.
Anyway, there’s lots to like about this slasher film but I felt it could have been a lot darker, less like proficient ‘product’ and more like the outpourings of Loverboy’s violent fantasies.
Review by Colin Dibben
Girlhouse is out on DVD on 20 July.