REVIEW: THE BEACH HOUSE is steeped in Lovecraftian-tinged body horror anchored by relatable characters at its core.


Director Jeffrey A. Brown’s directorial debut channels elements of classic body horror like Invasion of The Body Snatchers by way of H.P. Lovecraft’s Colour Out of Space in this story of a couple trying to survive an injured relationship.

By and large, the most effective horror films are those with an emotional core that the audience with which the audience can empathize. For example, one of the main relatable beats in 2019’s Midsommar was the fact that the film is really about empowerment coming out of an insecure relationship with the supernatural elements playing background to the emotional drama. Similarly, director Jeffrey A. Brown’s directorial debut, THE BEACH HOUSE, hitting Shudder Thursday, July 9th, works because of the emotional depth brought by the film’s protagonist Emily, played by Liana Liberato. Emily is in a complicated relationship with her boyfriend Randall (Noah Le Gros), who has been distant, both emotionally and physically, after dropping out of college and seemingly out of Emily’s life. The two decide to take a trip to Randall’s father’s house at the beach to find each other again and see if they can rekindle their relationship as Noah tries to encourage Emily to follow his example and leave school as well to try to fix their issues. However, on arrival, Emily discovers that there is an older couple also staying at the house unbeknownst to the two of them beforehand, Mitch (Dawn of the Dead’s Jake Weber) & Jane (Maryanne Nagel), older friends of Randall’s father. Randall invites them to stay and as they share a dinner talking about their lives and hopes for the future, a strange fog begins to set in the seemingly abandoned beach town that starts to make them all feel and act strangely the next day. Before too long, both couples start to find that visiting this beach house is a mistake they cannot unmake.

For the most part, THE BEACH HOUSE is a slow burn horror, not unlike other indie genre films like The Invitation, Evolution, or Coherence. Brown spends a lot of time with Emily and Randall and Mitch and Jane so we come to care about them as people so that the scenario they find themselves in seems all the more terrifying since the audience comes to care about them. Liberato’s Emily is our primary protagonist and it’s hard not to feel for her as she gives a real and compellingly believable performance that anchors the film. Likewise, Weber’s Jake serves as a relatable everyman much as he did on CBS’ Medium. The film’s practical effects are done extremely well and the body horror elements will make you wince, as will some of the creature effects and design used throughout the film. By and large, the pacing is similar to other body horror fare like Phillip Kaufman’s 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers and, while being dissimilar to that film in terms of threat, it expertly conjures up similar feelings of disassociation and fear of the unknown. The unknown fog that changes the world and those around it is very evocative of Lovecraft’s Colour Out of Space and while that influence is felt here, its a different animal than Richard Stanley’s 2020 adaptation, telling a story of personal survival and trying to move forward to something, rather than blindly grasp for survival around you.

Overall, THE BEACH HOUSE is a compelling film, a methodically paced body horror film that has something behind it and sticks with you. Liana Liberato serves up a sympathetic heroine and Brown delivers an insidious existential threat in this film that rings that bell of Lovecraftian eldritch horror with a relatable story and characters to anchor the movie and also sustain its otherwordly elements.