YEAR: 2023 / COUNTRY: NETHERLANDS / LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / RUN TIME: 86 MIN
Starring: Nick Frost, Alicia Silverstone, Kevin Connolly, Jan Bijvoet, Gaite Jansen, Walt Klink
Director(s): Steffen Haars, Flip Van Der Kuil
In their hotly anticipated English-language debut, Dutch directing duo Steffen Haars and Flip van der Kuil (New Kids) spare no one, unleashing a deliriously fucked-up ode to the sanctity of family that consistently outdoes itself. Taking a studio audience–approved world and nuking it from the inside, Haars and van der Kuil bless us with their demented sense of humor and depravity. Nick Frost embodies Bernie Christian with zest, doing justice to his last name as a meek, devout head of household who’s suddenly forced into a bloodcurdling, jaw-dropping crusade when his spiritual foundations fail; Alicia Silverstone matches his madness as his gleefully mischievous wife. Miraculous in its very existence and gloriously unhinged, Krazy House begs to be seen to be believed.
Written By Darren Zakus
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Krazy House may have the right ideas at play, but the film is not able to find the right tone to make it the wacky, ultra violent midnight film it strives to be, ultimately squandering a strong performance from Alicia Silverstone.
Midnight films have the ability to push the boundaries of what they can show on screen, the tone of the film, and how absurd of a story they can tell. It’s for this very reason that watching a midnight film with a packed theatre is always a fun time, as the audience quickly gets into the outrageous nature of the film with laughter, applause and screams. There is no denying that Krazy House starts off with an interesting tone that promises one wild midnight film, and the casting of Nick Frost and Alicia Silverstone is perfect for the film you think Krazy House is going to be, but the film takes a major misstep and struggles to find its tone for the majority of the film. It’s no fault of the story, as the premise and events that occur during the film fit perfectly within the midnight genre, but the direction of the film forgets to bring the absurd fun that viewers want from such a film.
The film starts off strong with a satirical 90s Christian sitcom style of storytelling, equipped with a theme song and square aspect ratio to evoke that television feeling. It creates some fun moments with a tongue in cheek tone that captures the absurdity of the midnight genre as Frost’s character Bernie has flashes of a bloodied world that represents reality. From a production value standpoint, the film perfectly recreates the 90s sitcom vibe and adds a sense of nostalgia to draw the audience into the film, while making it very clear that something sinister is brewing beneath the surface and about to break loose.
About twenty minutes into the movie, we shift out of the 90s sitcom and the film becomes the bloody home invasion thriller that fans are expecting from it. The aspect ratio morphs to widescreen, the colour from the images disappear as the film is plunged in darkness, setting the tone for the bloody mayhem that is about to be unleashed on screen. It’s a great visual distinction from the opening act of the film, but with this change, the screenplay is not able to find the corresponding change in tone to accompany it. The film is not able to find the proper balance of the darkness, unhinged violence and comedy that the film needs to succeed, causing the majority of the jokes to fall flat and the film’s pacing to come to a grinding halt. It makes the film drag considerably, which is a major problem as it’s only eighty six minutes in length, making it feel like an ordeal to get to the story’s conclusion. While the screenplay does find the right mix of violence, comedy and darkness in the film’s final fifteen minutes, it is far too late to resurrect the film after the disastrous change in tone.
From a performance point of view, the only true standout is Silverstone as Eva. Silverstone is always a great casting choice for a comedic role, and she shines in the sitcom part of the film, effortlessly capturing the sitcom energy and helping to deliver some great laughs. For the rest of the film, she finds the intensity and comedic timing that the film needed to find in the rest of its aspects, making her the sole bright light of the film. If the rest of the cast found the same energy that Silverstone brought to the film, Krazy House could have worked, but unfortunately none of them rise to the occasion. Frost is surprisingly unfunny, which is rare for him; and Gaite Jansen and Walt Klink each have their moments as Bernie and Eva’s children, but they are not given the spotlight enough to make a lasting impression on the film. Kevin Connoly makes for a few good laughs as Jesus Christ in Bernie’s visions, but the role prevents Connoly from being truly outlandish with his performance, while Jan Bijvoet, Chris Peters and Matti Stooker are not sinister enough to create formidable enough villains for this story.
While watching a midnight film, my one requirement is for the film to create an entertaining watch that delivers on its premise. Whether it be laughter, extreme violence and gore, or jump scares, the film just needs to deliver on its central fixture and the performances and story will follow in suit of the tone set by the midnight elements. Sadly though, Krazy House is unable to determine the correct tone to sustain the film’s incredibly short runtime which ultimately wastes the promising premise, the delightful 90s sitcom satirical first act, and the always wonderful Alicia Silverstone.