Justin Long, Kate Bosworth, Gia Crovatin, and Lucy Walters
Justin Long and Kate Bosworth star in this seductive thriller from director Neil LaBute (The Wicker Man). Driving home to her secluded estate after meeting at a local bar, a player out to score thinks his beautiful, mysterious date will be another casual hook-up. While getting acquainted, their flirtation turns playful, sexy and sinister. Hoping to get lucky, his luck may have just run out.
In Theaters September 9, 2022
On Demand and Digital September 13, 2022
Run Time: 89 minutes | Rating: R
Neil LaBute returns to film with this battle of the sexes dark comedy horror film House of Darkness. The story opens with the text once upon a time. One thing that viewers will notice off the bat is LaBute uses silence and dialogue to fuel his stories.
After a night out at a bar, Hap Jackson (Justin Long) offers Mina Murray (Kate Bosworth) a ride home. Both have dialogue outside Murray’s home which is an actual castle. Hap is looking to get lucky, but the hard-to-read Murray has other plans.
Once inside the back and forth dialogue gets driven home over the next 90 minutes. There is also uncertainty for the viewers of this real-time player vs. prey story.
Although Mina claims to live alone, Jackson catches glimpses of other humanlike shadows. He pushes this aside though because getting lucky is all that is on his mind. Mina asks the buzzed Hap if he’s married to which he replies “Not at the moment.” This is a theme that will pop up throughout the film’s runtime. Hap Jackson is not the most honest person and only replies in half-truths.
The battle of the sexes continues and becomes more complex when Mina’s sister Lucy (Gia Crovatin) enters the fray. When Mina leaves to make drinks Hap brings his scuzzy even more to the surface by hitting on her sister.
Justin Long has made a living playing the awkward likeable guy. It’s no surprise, that he can bring a positive flare to even this character. Hap thinks of himself as a “good guy” and that is enough to get him into the sack with any woman. He’s a catch and these women should see that.
As the film plays out Hap Jackson’s intentions float to the surface more and his patience runs thin. At one point he says “It’s getting late I should head home”. He tries to push the narrative ahead let “let us get to this if we’re doing it”, but not too forceful. The landscape has changed for players like him. He must be wary of not catching a #MeToo hashtag with his name attached.
Mina’s intentions for Jackson become more visible throughout the night also. These little questions are tests. These tests are to see if he is trustworthy or not. If not he’ll become another pair of shoes in a pile seen in the opening and closing credits of the film.
House of Darkness is a film that deals with the ever-changing landscape of dating. It also wraps a nice little commentary on the power struggle between the sexes. The use of piano notes and orchestra intensify the silence between dialogue.
The film is full of dark comedy, but it is very dry at moments. LaBute relies on conversation instead of blood and guts to fuel this story. It’s a refreshing take which might not hit with everyone, but House Of Darkness is a gem of a film full of great acting and superb storytelling.
In Theaters Sept. 9, 2022, and On Demand and Digital Sept. 13, 2022