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Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 16: Masters of Horror - Family

Masters of Horror - Family
Where everybody knows your AAAHHHH!!!

Everyone needs a family. Whether its blood relatives, friends, or a group of people with similar interests, everyone needs a support system. But maybe that family isn't what you had hoped. What if you want to start a completely new family? Do you try to find that special someone and waste years of courting, marriage, and childbirth or do you skip all that and create your own new family through ghoulish means?

Family stars George Wendt (Cheers, Outside Providence) as the peculiar Harold and his new neighbors Celia (Meredith Monroe, Minority Report) and David (Matt Keeslar, Scream 3). We quickly learn that Harold is a psychotic serial killer and has created his own family with the bones of his victims. In his mind, he has full conversations with his victims, even tucking a little girl skeleton in a bed at night. He becomes obsessed with Celia and when David mysteriously disappears, Harold makes his move to make Celia a part of his family.

That's terrifying! What's that bunny doing there?!?

Directed by John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Animal House), Family is more quirky than your traditional horror movie. Sure there's some gore and a bit of violence, but it doesn't rank high in the horror column. Unless you're terrified of skeletons wearing clothes. It has a slow, creeping sort of terror that works because it is set in the real world, whereas other horror movies can take place on a distant planet or in a remote wilderness. A lovely townhouse on a quite street hides the unspeakable acts within, which is far more disturbing than you would think. You almost forget that Harold is brutally murdering people, melting their skin with acids in his basement, dressing up the skeletons and having full conversations with them.

George Wendt makes the character and the entire movie work because he is so likable. That may be a holdover from his days as Norm from the TV show Cheers. Combined with the upbeat music and bright surroundings, you feel yourself almost cheering for Harold. Meredith Monroe and Matt Keeslar both do a fine job as the new neighbors who may have an ulterior motive for moving to the area. I will say that I thought I knew what the ending would be, but was pleasantly surprised when they went in a different direction. It added a new layer to the movie which I had not expected, making it a better film altogether. 
Cheese! I mean, Boo!

Family is an certainly an enjoyable watch for horror and non-horror fans alike. Good acting, a solid story, and great direction from John Landis make this a fun, yet slightly disturbing movie. Some movies in the Masters of Horror series suffer from being shorter than a feature-length film, but Family fits in perfectly at just under an hour. It's light on the horror and effects, but you won't really notice because everything else is really enjoyable.


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