House of Last Things DVD Review
Written by Steven Wood
DVD released by Revolver Entertainment
Written and directed by Michael Bartlett
2013, Region 1 (NTSC), 110 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on February 10th, 2015
Lindsey Haun as Kelly
Blake Berris as Jesse
RJ Mitte as Tim
Randy Schulman as Alan
Diane Dalton as Sarah
Micah Nelson as Adam
I love when a movie requires additional viewings, but only when done intentionally by the filmmaker. Making things confusing can be annoying to some, but with second or even third viewings, noticing subtle hints or picking up on certain pieces of dialogue can be very rewarding. A prime (pun intended) example of this would be Primer or most recently, Enemy. Luckily for The House of Last Things, this task would be more of a pleasure rather than a chore.
An unmentioned tragedy (which is eventually explained) causes a couple to take off to Italy in an attempt to alleviate stress and clear their heads. Meanwhile, their house needs attending, and a young woman named Kelly, whom the homeowner Alan has recently befriended, fits the bill. Now for some reason, she decides that while the homeowners are away, it would be a good idea to have her troublesome brother Tim come stay with her. On top of that, a simple phone call to her boyfriend Jesse results in him taking it upon himself to show up and stay for the duration. The vibe is immediately tense between the threesome, especially Jesse and Tim. Oddly, Kelly has no problem being all over Jesse while her brother watches, which is disgusting and doesn't fit with Kelly's character.
As the story develops, we learn that reality isn't as it seems, maybe due to the house itself? Or the people involved? We don't find out for sure exactly what is going on, at least not right away. The House of Last Things instead brings you along for the ride, expecting you to accept the story progression and wait for the eventual payoff, which there is, kind of. Without saying too much, the past and the present seem to mesh together while in and around the house, where the movie mostly takes place. Personalities change and consequences are had. The biggest change being in Jesse, who is downright unrecognizable as the movie comes to a close. Don't get me wrong, saying that Jesse has a big personality change isn't exactly spoiling anything, because when everything is shown in context, it will make sense. The amount of twists, turns, flashbacks, simultaneous story lines, and dimensional differences are staggering and pretty hard to follow.
Michael Bartlett, the directory/writer/actor/editor/producer, has no credits to speak of since 1998, so for him to come back after more than a decade absent is impressive. The acting is great here; the haunting music that is playing almost throughout the movie also helps build the already tense atmosphere, so kudos to the cast and everyone else involved. What could have made The House of Last Things just a bit better would have been tying up the ending and maybe cutting the beginning title sequence. There are moments that don't entirely help what's happening on screen and only add to the confusion. Some confusion is good, of course, but there are plenty of "wtf" moments which don't add to the overall story. I will definitely watch this one again because I'm sure I missed something.
Video and Audio:
I'm not normally the type to complain when it comes to video quality, but any audio problems really irritate me. The 16x9 aspect ratio looks fine; everything is sharp and colorful, nothing to see here.
As for the audio, I don't know what it is exactly, but the background music drowns out some of the dialogue. You'd think Dolby Digital would be nice, but there are problems periodically.
There aren't any.