The opening scene of ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE was actually really funny to me. Little kids using profanity and doing shitty little things is always a pleasure for me to watch as I am a big fan of films that highlight that, such as GUMMO. As the film continues on, we pan over to a little boy waking up to a knock at the door from what appears to be Santa Claus. There isn’t really any depiction of the time of night because the little boy’s mom than enters the shower after waking up abruptly from what I assume is a nightmare. I assume it must be pretty early in the morning, like 3-4 a.m., what better time to take a shower… I guess? This opens the gateway to a fairly brutal scene reminiscent of PSYCHO, but way more bloodier. I have two words for you: Garden Sheers. If there is one thing I love seeing, it’s movie killers using weapons outside of your typical knife or machete. To me, that’s like trying to get ahead of the game.
We flash over to our main character Rachel, dropping off a Christmas present for her dead mother at her grandmother’s house. Her grandmother informs her that she is too old to be getting gifts for her dead mom because it’s creepy but would like for her to help out the old neighbor lady, Mrs. Garret. Rachel goes to visit Mrs. Garret and we come to learn that she is a very lonely lady and in her isolation has become quite creepy. Not your typical creepy but like “kidnap you and force you to eat her cooking” creepy. We then transition back to our killer, doing what he does best. I must say that I really enjoyed the sound effects of his slaughter. The sound of metal penetrating skin and crushing through bone is fairly realistic and is the envelope pushing that I like to see! We also get to see the inside of Mrs. Garret’s house for the first time which is littered with Christmas decor and creepy Santa mannequin’s. It’s quite apparent how lonely this woman is and in her loneliness and despair she finds solace in speaking to her stoic statues.
Around this time, Rachel’s relationship history resurfaces and I found myself becoming really interested in knowing what would come of that situation. For every scene of plot establishment, they are almost immediately followed up with a killing. This is how I like my slasher movies to progress.
One thing that I really enjoyed about ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE is that it is heavily reminiscent of previous staple slasher flicks. Although the slasher Santa has been done before, this film takes that to another level which I highly appreciated. This movie also follows the “you shouldn’t have sex” rule that the horror genre typically has in slasher films. Don’t have sex and you get to stay alive! I always loved those types of kill because honestly that would be the best and worst way to die. If you’re already getting down and dirty the last thing on your mind is that you’ll have a 2 1/2 foot metal object stuffed into your orifices or have yourself shish-kabobbed into your sexual partner. I loved that this film was heavy with that type of action.
Back to the neighbor lady, I can confirm she is insane. We catch minor glimpses which help the viewer better understand her character. It seems as though she is particularly crazy when it comes to her daughter Jamie, whom she had sheltered and hid from the world. As far as the neighborhood knows, that child is “no longer with them”. At this point the plot really starts to thicken and it offers a bit more structure than just slash, hack, stab. The best way I can describe Mrs. Garret is it’s as though she is a bit of Kathy Bates in WATERBOY; totally not horror at all, but just as sheltering. As Rachel and her friends explore the neighbors house while assisting her in setting up for the holiday, they start to notice some very peculiar things and begin to share stories of what they think happened to Jaime when they were kids.
There is a great deal of tension during particular scenes which I don’t want to spoil for you, but prior to watching this know that this film will have you on the edge of your seat. Sometimes with shock value and other times with anticipation. As I began to piece everything together I started to have a better understanding of what the intent of the killer is and what the plot is actually supposed to be. There are some fantastic practical effects throughout the kills in this movie which do look real and preserve the DIY feel of the golden era of gore and horror. Blood splatter is very frequent throughout the film too which is always a treat for me.
Another aspect of the film that I thought was conveyed really well was fear. The facial expressions were also acted really well; from the slaughtered victims faces and the camera getting the perfect “dead face” shots of the victims to all the living characters reactions to everything. The acting was up to par in my opinion. The camera shots were really smooth and captured fear and death excellently, considering what I can assume this movies budget is. There are a few cheap jump scares but it’s during times when nothing scary actually happens which is a very James Wan type of thing to do and I liked it. Something that I found particularly fascinating was the musical score used during the “tense” scenes which didn’t really ruin anything for me. This movie utilizes some really key elements within the slasher genre like I mentioned and it really sealed the deal for me on this movie. The core set of characters try their damndest to fight back and they definitely get their hits in but the outcome results in slaughter. Santa is not a clumsy killer like Ghost Face and he’s not a completely unstoppable force like Freddy, Jason or Michael, but he speaks for himself.
Although there are things that can be predicted throughout the film, this is one of those movies you watch once or twice a year, every year, and share it with your friends to see their reactions. Since this movie is based during Christmas time and features a slasher Santa, you can watch it during the Christmas season or Halloween season, for all you horror buffs out there that enjoy year round fright.