Girl House

Movies Reviews
Girl House

You know any movie that opens with a Ted Bundy quote isn’t going to go to a happy place—blood will be spilt, the hand of Evil will be omnipotent and the innocent will perish. Given all that, Girl House takes its sweet time getting to the eviscerating dire-works, which both builds tension and detracts boringly from its overarching, ghoulish grandeur. As a straight up slasher flick, Girl House is director Trevor Matthews’ chilling evocation of such standards as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, but much of what leads up to the inevitable bloodshed is a lot of silly boob-shaking twaddle that doesn’t seem to understand what worked best with its predecessors so much as just imitate them.

The incarnation of the title is something more than just your typical internet porn site. The “Girl House” is an isolated manse near a college town that obviously resembles the Playboy Mansion, though its locale is a well-guarded secret and it’s got firewalls and no-neck security guards to keep it covert. Peeping pervs, who ostensibly pay for the service, get to pop in via web-cam to ogle the House’s comely tenants, who cover every shade of the ethnic rainbow and fulfill every genre of role play (S&M, lingerie model, school girl, etc.). But that’s not all, because for a whopping fee, you too can be a part of the show, blindfolded and driven in for your very own porn star evening. And the Hefner to all of this is smarmy entrepreneur (is there any other kind?) Gary (James Thomas), the Rob Lowe lookalike who—surprise!—happens to prefer bedding down with hunky ripped lads than his Girl House employees.

Gary’s prize performer is a wholesome co-ed by the name of Kylie (Ali Cobrin), who’s relatively new to the house of horny and trying to make bank to cover her tuition after her father unexpectedly dies. Kylie’s high rating puts her on many Girl House customers’ radars, including that of the regular who goes by the online handle of Loverboy (Boston rapper Slaine, at the tail end of a good run acting as the doughty white badass in Boston crime films like The Town and By the Gun). Tagged as “lovable” and “harmless” by the other girls, Loverboy turns out to be anything but: he’s got a troubled past and, since computers are his thing, locating and getting into the Girl House is a breeze after he’s set off by Kylie no longer paying him his presumed virtual due.

Cobrin, believably affable, manages to elevate Kylie above the standard virgin-whore dichotomy a character like hers would normally navigate, but Girl House rides the rails of its genre so closely that broader expectations of quality are (thankfully) held in check. A squirrely subplot involving a grade school classmate with a long simmering crush on Kylie (Adam DiMarco)—who randomly catches her show and jumps into the mix with his nerdy computer hacking roommate (Wesley MacInnes)—fits in snugly with the potboiler narrative, but all is beholden to the ensuing gore: when Loverboy kicks into Leatherface mode (replete with gonzo face attire) and drops by the house to pay the object of his unrequited desire a nightmarish visit. Beyond the occasional bump in the night, there’s little surprise to the direction the film takes, especially when, like every other slasher movie, women are summarily punished for being sexual, but still, the yeoman orchestration of its familiar roots makes Girl House a serviceable slice of after-dark viewing.

Director: Trevor Matthews
Writer: Nick Gordon
Starring: Ali Cobrin, James Thomas, Slaine, Adam DiMarco, Wesley MacInnes
Release Date: February 13, 2015

Tom Meek is a writer living in Cambridge, MA. His reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in The Boston Phoenix, The Rumpus, WBUR’s ARTery, Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journal. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere. You can follow him on Twitter.

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