Horror is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.
How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.
How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.
To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.Show less
This article will contain spoilers; turn back now before continuing.
I have seen my fair share of horror movies. It's the only genre I'm ever in the mood to watch. My personal favorite is paranormal; slashers are unpredictable and terrifying, but nothing freaks me out more than something that we are not capable of seeing.
After reading the description, I wasn't sure what exactly I was getting into, but I wanted to keep an open mind. "A widower, his daughter, and his new wife move into a peaceful neighborhood, but quickly realize something is not right about their new home" (Wikipedia). This left the door wide open, I thought for sure it would be paranormal; however, my boyfriend was convinced it would be a slasher.
Not long into the film, the daughter, Hannah, starts noticing some odd things about the house. She has been tasked with cleaning out the garage which is full of the previous owners' belongings that they had left behind when they mysteriously disappeared from their home. The first few freaky moments were classics, such as a journal full of odd symbols with one legible word which reads DAVID, power outages, and a large cabinet supposedly moving on its own.
At this point, both of us are convinced it will be paranormal.
Very early in the movie, we are introduced to the creepy neighbor, Ray, the locksmith. He points out that they should consider changing their locks on their front doors and offers his services. Later on, while taking a look at the locks he exhibits some shady behavior. He finds Hannah's video camera on the dining room table and takes it upon himself to start taping her. His first move is to zoom in on her chest while she is speaking to him. Both Hannah and her stepmother, Melanie, found the encounter unnerving and requested the dad, John, to look into a different company for the future.
Later, Hannah is taunted by some neighborhood kids for living in a murder house. She then turns to the internet and researches the history of the home to find the last family vanished, and another family before them were murdered. She finds a photo of the family that lost their lives in the home and there is a subtle resemblance between the image of the family that died and her own.
Hannah continues to get more and more suspicious about the house. Early in the movie, her cat, Monty, went missing; this was never resolved and left me questioning what really did happen to her pet. However, one night she hears the sound of his bell and scratches from above her room. She follows the sound into the attic. After calling for him multiple times, one of his toys rolls out into the open. Here there are a few classic jump scares, the attic door closes suddenly, the lights flicker off and a loud breathing sound starts protruding from behind her. A hand grabs the side of the wall and there is a large, blurred, movement before she starts pounding on the attic door. After confronting her father about what she believes to have seen, he dismisses her fear. "Don't you think this is a little convenient that she's doing all this right after she finds out what happened here?" he says to Melanie after the encounter.
Classic horror movie parent. The kid is deemed insane because they know what is happening and the parent refuses to believe them. I must admit however at this point I wasn't sure myself if we the viewers had actually seen the hand (it is clearly visible), or if it had been a figment of her overactive imagination.
Hannah talks to Melanie about the weird sounds and finds out that Melanie has heard them as well. She assures Hannah that the house is not haunted but Hannah believes that something else could be going on. During this conversation they get a phone call and come home to find their house alarm going off. "I don't trust him, (Ray) he basically said he could break into our house to my face!" Melanie says to John that she wants the locks changed and not from him.
When Ray notices that they chose a different lock company, he confronts John and threatens him. At this point, I'm convinced that Ray is the bad guy. I do have my suspicions that it could still be paranormal and the director is trying to throw the viewers off the trail by adding the creepy neighbor character. Hannah finds a video on her camera of a sweet love note left from her boyfriend and when it finishes the film cuts to the next recording. The camera starts in the kitchen and follows into the parents' bedroom while they are asleep, and a rough scratchy voice says, "This is where they sleep," then into Hannah's room and says, "This is where she sleeps." The camera hovers over her and cuts out dramatically.
I have seen, like, every paranormal movie and THIS is classic paranormal: weird sounds, things out of place, cabinets left open, lights flickering, pictures falling from the walls. The scratchy demonic voice is like the cherry on the cake for me; I'm convinced that it's a ghost and Ray is just a ploy.
So you can imagine my surprise in the next scene, Ray breaks into her house and stands outside her door, watching her undress. When this lanky, scraggly, disheveled, man silently drops from the attic door behind him and ruthlessly beats his skull in with a hammer. I was literally shocked. My jaw hit the ground, and I just sat there in total horror at the brutality I had just witnessed. I was so sure it was going to be a ghost that when this nightmare fuel of a man appeared all of a sudden. I was just thrown for a loop.
Without spoiling the ending, they eventually find out that the family that lived in the house before them was presumed to have been murdered. That family only reported having a daughter, but in reality there was also a son. He suffered from a condition called agoraphobia; he leans towards violent reactions and showed symptoms of homicidal tendencies. This means he has a fear of open spaces. In other words, this guy, was so afraid to leave his house that he killed his family and moved into the walls where he lived in secret for years.
At the end of the movie a white text appeared that read, "With the economic downturn of 2008, there has been a staggering increase of people discovering strangers living undetected inside their homes." This freaked me out, so obviously I Googled it. It turns out that this stuff happened all of the time: People would live in other peoples homes for months, and the owners would have no idea that they were housing unwanted tenants.
Most of the cases were nowhere as extreme as the movie, usually just people living underneath a home, or in the attic, coming out for food and returning back to their hole unnoticed. But there were a few freaky cases, one man lived under a woman's house for up to a year and her three large dogs never even noticed. In another, a woman lived on the top shelf of a man's closet for about a year, she claimed that the key to lasting so long was maintaining personal hygiene. She would wait until the man left for work, sneak out of the closet, eat his food, shower, and return to the top shelf.
Like any sane person, I made my boyfriend follow me around the house and help me check every room that night. It's been weeks since I saw that movie, and every time I go downstairs, I picture his face lurking in the dark and end up sprinting up the stairs. So I would say that this movie is definitely doing a good job scaring me.
All in all, I loved that I couldn't predict what was happening next. Sometimes it was obvious, but I mean I spent the first half of the movie thinking it was about a ghost and not a real live person. So I would definitely recommend it to a friend, except, maybe watch it with a buddy, or at least have someone else in the house with you. You never know who might be lurking.