(director/writer: Jeffrey A. Brown; cinematographer: Owen Levelle; editor: Aaron Crozier; music: Roly Porter; cast: Noah Le Gros (Randall), Liana Liberato (Emily),  Martann Nagel (Jane), Jake Weber (Mitch); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Andrew Corkin/Tyler Davidson/Sophia Lin; Shudder; 2019)

“It fails in the third act to deliver much excitement after its solid set-up.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

In his first film, Jeffrey A. Brown is writer and director of this creepy, unsettling, fantasy film about vacationers under attack from the environment. He brings a lot to the table as far as it being an arty film, but fails to deliver on the execution part. The low-budget thriller relies heavily on its scary mood piece and rich character development to score points with the horror pic crowd. Which it should do, to a certain degree, since it’s a Lovecraft-inspired horror film.

During the off-season, the estranged young couple, the attractive and bright Emily (Liana Liberato) and the adventurous, irresponsible and jerky hunk Randall (Noah Le Gros), hoping to see if their love life has anything left, want to be alone, and drive unannounced to his family’s Massachusetts remote summer house (looks like Cape Cod) expecting to have the house to themselves. Instead find that his dad let an older couple, Mitch (Jake Weber) and Jane (Maryann Nagle), friends of the family, stay there for some R & R.

The older couple is fine with sharing the living quarters, and they all settle in for an enjoyable home-cooked meal (though Emily has a distaste for the oysters). During their dinner talk it’s disclosed that Jane is dying from a severe illness. We also learn that Emily is studying Organic Chemistry and planning to continue her studies in Astrobiology in Grad school, while Randall, going in an opposite direction, plans to drop out of college (disappointing his dad).

After dinner Randall shares with the willing others a marijuana-laced chocolate. Later that night the young couple note an unusual phosphorescent effect in the air and the older couple are dangerously engulfed in the heavy fog over the water outside, as a glowing blue light is seen and there’s also some kind of gooey parasite stuff in the water that clings to you. This hazy projection is apparently not drug-induced but a natural phenomenon, and its force is so great that both couples become zombie-like.

After floating a couple of explanations for what’s happening (allowing the viewer to choose the one believed), I settled for the mysterious things being like the 1950s movie The Blob, the alien invasion sci-fi film about those slimy creatures from outer-space.

Let’s for argument’s sake say the drug taking was a red herring and what happened the night before to cause such a severe morning hangover for the young couple and for Jane vanishing, is inexplicable but believable as some form of eco-terror in nature. I can go with such a fuzzy explanation and dig the gross-out creature effects. But after such a big creature-induced build-up of imminent danger for the vacationing couples, it fails in the third act to deliver much excitement after its solid set-up.

      Beach House (2019)

REVIEWED ON 7/12/2020  GRADE: C+