Directed by Tom Vaughan. Starring Craig Welzbacher ("Mitch McKenzie"), Sarah Prikryl ("Jen McKenzie"), Mayra Leal ("Blair"), and Matt Lusk ("Danny"). Rated R.
Source: Region 1 DVD (Maya Releasing)
Running time: 01:24:08
Mitch and Jen are a couple who seemingly have it all. They're both accomplished in their respective fields, and judging by the look of their brand new house I think it's safe to assume that they make a lot of money. Mitch's friend Danny is sort of a third wheel who moves in with them and rents an extra bedroom, partly due to the fact that Mitch was a little in over his head when he bought the house and could use some help paying the mortgage. To keep Danny out of their hair, Jen suggests he look into online dating, and it's not long at all before he brings home a tan-skinned, brunette goddess by the name of Blair, who's obviously way out of his league in the looks department. Without giving away too much, let's just say that Blair's presence shakes up the relationship of the three central characters dramatically, but when you consider the fact that the DVD cover is a picture of a woman holding a large kitchen knife behind her back, it's kinda obvious as to what direction the movie goes.
PLAYING HOUSE is a throwback to those "uninvited guest" movies that seemed to thrive in the 90's more so than any other decade, so if you've seen films like THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, FEAR, and THE CRUSH, then you'll pretty much know what to expect from this movie, albeit on a lesser scale and a lot bloodier.
PLAYING HOUSE is a flawed film - in certain areas more than others, but flawed nonetheless. However, there were times when watching it that I personally forgot about how flawed it was and got caught up in what was going on, but then usually something would happen that would kinda snap me out of it and remind me that I was watching a cliched and amateurish piece of work, and I mean that respectfully. PLAYING HOUSE knows exactly what it is and doesn't try to reinvent the wheel, but at times it reeks of a project that was slightly rushed and could have used a bit more attention and care before it was unleashed to the masses.
Thankfully, the acting from the three leads is surprisingly good despite the characters not being very interesting. Speaking of which, I found it hard to feel bad for the characters in any way. Mitch and Jen in particular have a great life and security, which is something that a lot of people would kill for (whoops), but yet their relationship is falling apart because they're both selfish. Even without Blair in the picture, it would be quite obvious that their relationship is strained and that, ultimately, their clashing personalities would more than likely cause the downfall of their relationship. That being said, Blair didn't really have to do a lot of work if her intention was to infiltrate the lives of the lead characters. All she would have had to do is sit back and wait, but yet she makes this psychotic turn anyway. Blair's drastic but inevitable turn was probably the highlight of the movie for me, but it felt like it was a little too much and even somewhat forced, namely because it wasn't crystal clear as to what her intentions were in the first place.
One strange thing of note is that there's a scene where what I assume is Jen's cat is killed, but prior to that there's absolutely nothing in the film that shows proof of her even owning a cat. Perhaps I missed something, but I'm pretty sure I didn't see a cat shown at any point. Anyway, for a movie that's only about 80-minutes long, PLAYING HOUSE moves at a fairly slow pace, and as I mentioned earlier, it doesn't do anything that films of its sub-genre haven't already done before. On the plus side, it's shot reasonably well and the violence is great once the film hits the third act and the pace starts to pick up a little. If you enjoyed actress Mayra Leal's brief but memorable role as "Naked Chica" in MACHETE, let's just say that you won't be disappointed with her in PLAYING HOUSE.