Update: There’s Someone Inside Your House Movie: Stakes, motivations, and changes

There’s Someone Inside Your House Movie:

The movie was directed by Patrick Brice with a screenplay by Henry Gayden.

The movie version of Stephanie Perkins’ young adult (YA) novel “There’s Someone Inside Your House” follows the path of other book-to-movie adaptations in the sense that it makes noticeable changes to its source material. However, unlike most of my adaptation viewing, I wasn’t bothered by these changes.

My lack of reverence for the original version of the story helped my viewing experience considerably. I wasn’t trying to compare the screen adaptation to the book, or subconsciously disliking the good movie version just because I loved the book. It was interesting to see where the film chose to diverge from the novel, but also interesting to see that it often fell into the same pitfalls as Perkins’ work. 

The plot of the movie “There’s Someone Inside Your House” (SIYH) is highly similar to the book. Makani (played here by Sydney Park), a senior at Osborne High, is living with her grandmother in rural Nebraska after leaving Hawaii under mysterious circumstances. When a serial killer begins targeting teens in the area, Makani finds herself confronted by her past. The only primary difference here is that the killer is not going after teens who have a chance to leave Osborne, but after those who have done bad things. The first victim is a football player who hazed and beat one of his teammates because he was gay. The second victim is a girl who created a white supremacy podcast. Before attacking, the killer 3D prints a mask of the intended victim’s face, creating a disturbing parallel: as if the actions of the person are directly the thing seeking vengeance on them. 

This change in motivation, as well as the change in the identity of the killer (which was still a disappointing reveal, but much better than the book), gives the movie a palpably tense feeling. In a scene reminiscent of Wes Craven’s “Scream,” the teens of Osborne throw a party and share their secrets, attempting to take power away from the masked assailant. Unfortunately, these tense and creative moments fall apart under the laziness of the rest of the plot. After the second murder, the motivations for the crimes become less sensical.

As said by one of my friends who I was watching it with, the reasoning behind the murder of the first two teens is intense. It starts at 100% and goes all the way to 150%, so when the third teenager is murdered over their pill addiction, it drops the stakes and makes the killer less calculating. Addiction is certainly not good, but from what we see of the character’s struggle with it, addiction hasn’t motivated this character to hurt other people. The hazing actively hurt the teammates on the football team, the podcast episode was actively spreading hate, and the addiction hurt the teen, but it didn’t inspire them to do anything remotely as horrific as the other two. Later, the killer stabs a random side-character that hasn’t even been on screen enough to say something mean, let alone do something bad enough to incur the wrath of the serial killer. 

All of this might have been forgivable had the killer not been given a monologue at the end of the movie explaining their motivations. Within the monologue, the killer spends time lamenting how much effort it takes to make masks of their intended victims’ faces… So why waste all that time and energy on people whom the audience have never seen act badly? It also begs the questions how the killer knew these characters would even be there, or if they took a guess and printed a mask in the off-chance they had the opportunity? It makes less sense the more you think about it.

Plot and story problems aside, the actors in the movie were talented. Park was convincing and compelling as Makani, even when the writing of Makani

’s backstory was overworked and melodramatic. Asjha Cooper and Diego Josef elevated Alex and Rodrigo (respectively) from the flat book characters to humorous and lively ones in the movie. Jesse LaTourette as Darby and Burkley Duffield as Caleb provide much needed levity to the main group of misfits. Dale Whibley does well as Zach- a character made for the movie- and Theodore Pellrin as Ollie does his best with the average love interest character. 

I won’t deny that the repetition in the mentioning of Ollie’s pink hair and lip ring in the book were annoying, but the fact that the movie excludes them turns Ollie from the ‘punk’ archetype to the ‘bad boy’ archetype found in many a YA novel. It’s an especially large missed opportunity given that these traits would have translated to screen well. Unlike having to provide a verbal description each time Ollie is on page, a movie could have shown the audience what he looks like without commenting. 

Ultimately, I think the cast and crew made a movie that looked good and had moments of investment, but viewers were let down by the general messiness in the plot, and confused storytelling. With friends though, it’s a fun watch that doesn’t require a lot from the viewer and lends itself to pausing while you all try to remember the name of the guy who was just on screen. For those looking for a good slasher, my horror-movie-buff friend says it’s average, and for those of you who don’t like blood- I only had to look away twice.

4/10 would forget Osborne again

Further breakdown:

Writing Quality: 4/10                   Enjoyability: 6/10

Pace: 3/10                                       Visual elements: 7/10

Plot development: 2/10                Insightfulness: 5/10 

Characters: 6/10