The Beach House Review: Body Horror Slow Burner Is A Showcase For Liana Liberato

Liana Liberato stars in the indie horror shocker The Beach House, a new film debuting this week on the streaming service Shudder. The actress is having a bit of a banner year already, having had two movies already come out in 2020. Her performance in The Beach House, though, will be the one that viewers will definitely take notice of.

In the film, Liberato plays Emily, a college student studying biology. Along with her boyfriend visits a beach house for a restful getaway. Their relationship has been frayed, but they hope this trip will bring them back together. Unbeknownst to them though, there is an older couple, friends of the boyfriend’s dad, already staying at the aforementioned abode. Initial awkwardness aside, the couples have a pleasant night partying together, aided by good music and edibles. Things go awry when the drugs really kick in, and everyone wakes up the next day feeling odd and unhealthy.

There is something in the air and nearby water that the night before appeared dazzling and luminescent. Now, it gives way to inexplicable grotesquery. It drives all of our main characters batty and gives their innards what for, as they all become “infected” in one way or another. This leads to a couple gruesome episodes that I won’t detail here. But they are guaranteed to have all but the bravest viewers squirming in their seats. Emily does her best to piece together a picture of what exactly has befallen her and those around her, and hopes to be able to make an escape with her boyfriend from this seaside sick house before it’s too late.

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From early performances of hers, such as in the David Schwimmer directed Trust, to her recent starring role in the Hulu series Light as a Feather, Liana Liberato has been making a name for herself as one of the more talented young actresses working in Hollywood. Her trifecta of onscreen roles this year, highlighted by her performance here, put her in a different category all together though, and seem certain to catapult her to a higher level of acclaim and accolades. She is one to watch out for, and I heartily look forward to what film roles she takes on from here.

First-time feature director Jeffrey A. Brown brings his A-game to this isolated horror thriller, corralling a quartet of quality performances from his leads. Once the proverbial merde hits the fan, he dispenses with the niceties and gives the fans what they want in terms of gross practical effect gags, to make the body horror hit the viewer hard. Heretofore known mostly as a location manager and scout, Brown has a promising future ahead of him as a director, and hopefully, his next project will be as rewarding and successful as this one.

The Beach House is worth seeking out on Shudder for horror fans of all stripes. It is a slow burn, for sure, but stick with it to be rewarded with a fantastic lead performance by Liana Liberato and an overall entertaining and at times gruesome cinematic kick to the solar plexus.

Recommended if you liked: The Fly, Rabid, The Brood

FINAL GRADE: A-

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Daniel Tafoya

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