Commendably diverse and deplorably unscary, Patrick Brice’s teen-slasher movie, “There’s Someone Inside Your House,” attempts to both update and bow to a genre that peaked decades ago. But in trying to have it both ways, Brice has created a messy, overstuffed parody of moral policing that squanders the promise of its cleverly executed opening.
That sequence, genius in its simplicity (and the only one to truly justify the film’s title), shows the slaying of a high-school quarterback who brutally hazed a gay teammate. Barely has the deceased’s homophobia been broadcast to the stunned student body when their racist president is also whacked. As the killings — and, arguably more terrifying, online exposures — continue, the movie watches from the viewpoint of a clique of social outcasts led by Makani (Sydney Park, alternating between dazed and woebegone), a transfer student with a traumatic past.
Set in small-town Nebraska and adapted from Stephanie Perkins’s novel of the same name, Henry Gayden’s screenplay chokes on immaterial plot strands — like police privatization and the evils of agribusiness — and bland characters. The sole standout is Théodore Pellerin as the prime suspect and Makani’s secret hookup: Dancing on the line between creepy and sexy, Pellerin never misses a step.
The same can’t be said for a story that, disastrously, allows Makani’s barely relevant personal issues to elbow those of the killer off the screen. They also muffle the plot’s smartest touches, like a party where students pre-empt an attack by confessing their darkest secrets. Or the killer’s habit of wearing masks resembling each victim’s face, making them quite literally casualties of their own actions. It’s the movie’s best joke.
There’s Someone Inside Your House
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. Watch on Netflix.