Directed By: Michael Bartlett
Starring: Lindsey Haun, Blake Berris, RJ Mitte
Tag line: "Pick up the key... unlock the past"
Trivia: Marks the feature film debut of RJ Mitte, aka Walter White Jr. in Breaking Bad
In an effort to save his crumbling marriage, Alan (Randy Schulman) takes his troubled wife Sarah (Diane Dalton) to Italy for a month-long vacation. To watch over their house while they’re gone, he hires Kelly (Lindsey Haun), who temporarily moves in with her mentally slow brother Tim (RJ Mitte). What looks to be an easy job is soon complicated, however, when Kelly’s out-of-control boyfriend Jesse (Blake Berris) shows up and refuses to leave. To make matters worse, Jesse comes across a lost boy while shopping at the local supermarket and decides to bring him back to the house. To Kelly’s horror, Jesse announces that he plans to hold the boy, whose name is Adam (Micah Nelson), until his parents pay a ransom for his return. It’s around this time that the three begin to experience strange visions, all of which suggest something terrible happened inside the house. What they don’t realize is that Alan and Sarah, despite being thousands of miles away, are sharing these visions. Will they discover the cause of this unusual phenomenon in time, or will all five fall victim to the energy that’s enveloping the house and all who live in it?
Written and directed by Michael Bartlett, 2013’s House of Last Things is in no particular hurry to reveal its various mysteries. Under normal circumstances, I’m a fan of films that move slowly, building an ominous tone as they weave their way towards an eventual outcome, but House of Last Things takes it all a bit too far. More than once, we’re presented with images of yellow balloons, golf balls, and apples, all of which clearly figure into a solution that, for most of the movie's running time, remains just out of reach. In addition, director Bartlett tosses in a few elements that go absolutely nowhere; an elderly woman named Rose (Michele Mariana), claiming to be Sarah’s therapist, pops up on occasion, spouting bizarre platitudes that only succeed in confusing us. In the end, House of Last Things wallows in ambiguity for so long that its finale, regardless of what it might be, couldn’t possibly live up to the hype.
And yet there wasn’t a single moment while watching House of Last Things that I wanted it all to end. Despite its over-indulgence, the film is crafted in such a way that it held my attention throughout, and even though it was doomed to be an anti-climax, I was anxious to see how everything tied together. Without a doubt, House of Last Things is a frustrating movie, but never once did I find it boring.