DVD The Happy House

DVD The Happy House

Rating: 4.3
Genres: Comedy | Horror
Director: D.W. Young
Writers: D.W. Young
Stars: Khan Baykal, Aya Cash, Marceline Hugot
Their relationship on the rocks, a young Brooklyn couple heads to a remote B&B to work things out. But from the moment they arrive at The Happy House it’s one disaster after another, and they soon begin to suspect they’ve wandered into a real life horror movie. Events escalate from weird to terrifying as they contend with the house’s batty owner, her imposing son, a moody Swedish lepidopterist, a pedantic English professor, an extraordinarily rare butterfly, the world’s best blueberry muffins, a .44 Magnum, a demented serial killer, and one very strict rulebook. Written by Happy House
Plot Keywords: dark comedy
Country: USA
Release Date: 3 May 2013 (USA)
Box Office
Opening Weekend: $1,756 (USA) (3 May 2013)
Gross: $1,756 (USA) (3 May 2013)


  1. The Happy House is a remote Bed & Breakfast specializing in odd rules to make your stay as uncomfortable as possible. It somehow got good reviews (even though the movie itself has gotten bad reviews) and our New York Couple are off for a weekend to repair their relationship. Wendy doesn't want to go; Joe thinks it will be for the best. And as an audience, we have no clue what it's going to be like.

    It starts out just plain weird. With an old-fashioned batty housewife, Hildie, ordering the couple around, and her strange grown son, Skip, who may or may not kill people, it doesn't seem like the most inviting movie to watch, but it does suggest there will be some kind of plot eventually.

    And sure enough, there is a plot. With Joe and Wendy stuck there, a Swedish lepidopterist who likes staying there, and then the arrival of Hildie's significantly more normal sister, Linda, we now have a full house of people and action that can unfold entirely within the house and amongst the conversation of the people.

    A deputy arrives at the door informing them that a serial killer is on the loose and they should not leave the house. I tend to like movies that force the action into one location and let the dialogue drive the characters forward. They each have their distinct personality and their own ideas on what they should to keep themselves safe. They make a number of mistakes, but I guess that's what keeps this horror-comedy silly.

    I think I might be in the minority in wanting more character drama, but that's probably why I liked "The Happy House" which is short on thrills and laughs. It's an interesting premise with some strange elements but there's enough intrigue to the characters to keep some fans interested.

    Who Might Like This: People who like character dramas disguised as horror-comedies; anybody looking for an odd combination of horror, comedy and relationship drama.

  2. D.W. Young's "The Happy House" is a mixed bag. The actors and performances are quite charming and several notches above those found in most super-low budget HD features like this (the female lead is especially effective). It is also well shot and the sound is good.

    The story starts as a variation on Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap" with some "Tucker and Dale vs Evil" overtones. However, Young's screenplay is all set up and no follow through and degenerates from quirky to sub-par dull about ¾ of the way through. IMDb shows that Young's previous films and videos have been shorts, and the construction of this story bears that out—there's only about 45 minutes of story crammed into this hour and a half.

    It's not mentioned on IMDb, but I'd bet that the majority of Young's experience is in live theatre and not film. I say this because he obviously has a talent for working with actors and getting the best out of them—this is an area where low budget films are usually at their weakest, but it is HH's greatest strength. Young also seems uncomfortable with film editing, which makes much of the movie seem like an adapted stage play. He prefers very long, static shots, as though the camera was set up at the edge of a stage and just left to run while the actors stand or sit in one spot and talk. While this does often show off the skills of the actors– who interact in these dialog-heavy sequences with a rhythm and naturalness that rarely rings false— it doesn't allow the protracted scenes to be edited for pace and is undeniably boring from a visual standpoint. And when young does employ standard editing—over the shoulder shots or povs—they are clumsily handled, as if he didn't really want to insert them, but felt he had no choice. Also, when locations shift between sequences, the screen simply fades to black and then back up again, like a curtain falling and rising. However this technique seems less like a stylistic choice and more like an "I'm doing it this way because I don't know another way to get from here to there."

    Anyway, I don't want to sound like I'm ragging on the film. Young does many, many things right. As I said before, he gets very good performances out of his actors (and we all know that horrible acting is usually a low budget film's major weakness).

    This movie was just a third of a screenplay and one professional editor away from being a classic indie comedy-horror flick along the lines of Ti West's "The Innkeepers." I look forward to more from all the folks involved in "The Happy House."

  3. I think the other reviewers on here are not getting this film at all. I can see why it wouldn't be for everyone, but I thought it was actually really funny. The film is clearly commenting on the clichés you see ALL THE TIME in horror films, through the eyes of the two main characters. But then there's a moment when things suddenly change (I don't want to give anything away) and the movie gets a lot darker. If you go into this expecting a straightforward horror film then you will probably be disappointed, but I personally found it pretty surprising and different. Anyway lots of the reviews say it better than I am. Also there are some really funny characters like the lady who runs the bed and breakfast and this butterfly catcher who is obsessed with finding this one butterfly.

  4. I enjoyed this movie. Perhaps more importantly I still find myself thinking about it. If you are searching for the obvious then I think it is wise to look elsewhere. If not, this little gem is beautifully shot, has amazing sound and a wonderful cast of characters. Although I found the connection between the two leading actors to be wanting the rest of the cast more than makes up for this. The matron mother of the bed and breakfast is great, so too is her overfed and doted on son. And as for the lepidopterist and the sister – I won't spoil that fun here. I do wish there had been a bit more pace but I suspect this was intentional. Overall this movie works for me, precisely because it is so close to what I expected but intelligently, humorously, and knowingly recast. I am not quite sure why but this movie reminds me of the sequence in Blue Velvet when Beaumont finds the ear (and those ants)…

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