The House of Him
Rob Florence's ultra-low budget horror is an intriguing treatment of gender and violence in cinema
When considering the term 'low budget' in filmmaking, it's often worth remembering that the term is relative to the industry – even lo-fi legend The Blair Witch Project cost at least $20,000, which is still a trifle more than most of us have down the back of the couch. The debut feature from journalist and comedian Robert Florence (best known to Scottish audiences as co-creator of sketch series Burnistoun) was reputedly made for £900, and while the absence of cash is plainly visible on screen, The House of Him proves that you can't put a price on a good idea.
The film picks up at a point near the end of most horror plots – masked serial killer Him (Richard Rankin) is in full-on stalk'n'slash mode having already lured his latest victims into his home. When one is dispatched, lone survivor Anna (Louise Stewart) is left to survive by any means necessary, be it hiding, fighting or trying to reason with her captor.
It's this last resort that takes up the bulk of the running time, and is the film's main strength and weakness. The conversations between she and Him highlight a misogyny endemic to horror movies, provoking serious questions about the treatment of women in the genre, but with no budgetary bells and whistles to aid them (aside from an effective synth score from David Simpson and Chvrches' Iain Cook), Rankin and Stewart struggle to maintain the necessary air of tension. At 90ish minutes, the film hardly outstays its welcome, but it'd be interesting to see what Florence could do with a leaner edit – and maybe an extra 20 quid or so.
Reviewed at Glasgow Film Festival 2014.