Horror is full of final houses. Just this year alone, The Last House and The Last House on Cemetery Lane were released. Of course, the greatest domestic dwelling is Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left. All other last houses pale in comparison.
Such is the case with Sean Cain’s The Last House. Despite featuring recognizable names such as Jason Mewes (the Jay in Jay and Silent Bob) and Ezra Buzzington (a character actor of American Horror Story and Fight Club fame), The Last House is watered-down tripe soup. Worse still, it’s watered-down tripe soup that thinks it’s clever and cute. Neither is true.
The Last House weaves a highly convoluted story about a prostitute named Love (played by Lauren Walsh) and her last day on the job. After being prodded into taking on another client by her paranoid, gun-toting, and turtle-obsessed pimp Sonny (played by Jack Forcinito), Love and two new girls named Hailey (played by Jeanine Daniels) and Jenna (played by Alexis Zibolis) decamp for a large white house in the Hollywood hills.
Unfortunately for them, the house is occupied by three schizos named Cleb (played by Ricardo Gray), Mistress Selma (played by Monique Parent), and Hate (played by Buzzington). As night descends and the Pabst Blue Ribbon dries up, the three home squatters descend on the hookers one-by-one. Cleb, a hyperactive dork with a professed love of dinosaurs (he seriously shouts “I like dinosaurs” during foreplay), takes a bite out of Jenna, while Mistress Selma injects an unknown substance into Hailey just as the kink factor was about to bust through the roof.
These deaths don’t matter. The only relationship imbued with meaning is the one between Love and Hate. That’s right—Love and Hate. Hate, a sadomasochistic Svengali with a creepy Southern drawl, tries to coax Love to the evil side. Or at least that’s the suggestion. Frankly, the plot of The Last House makes very little sense, while the chronology keeps moving back and forth like a trapped hamster. At some points Love becomes a possessed angel of revenge, while at other moments she’s a helpless victim always on the verge of death. Instead of being big, bad killers, the psycho trio are portrayed as gigantic dopes who have no clue that they’re supposed to be vicious. Cleb is particularly ridiculous, especially during a scene where he graphically fingers a melon before getting completely aroused during Love’s aborted attempt at strangulation. Weird stuff, kids.
As for the whole Love and Hate angle, it’s a lost cause. Hate’s demon maestro routine is bland and boring and it cannot be saved by Buzzington’s better-than-average acting. Walsh’s performance is so-so, while Mewes, who plays a romantic john named Ned, manages to be essentially non-essential throughout the film. For a guy who made his bones by playing a stoned and foul-mouthed slacker, Mewes’s take on Ned is noticeably reserved and therefore forgettable.
That’s the key word with The Last House: “forgettable.” This film is like a McMansion—it looks good at first, but the more you stare at it, the more the cracks begin to show. With haphazard construction and an overall air of amateurishness, The Last House even manages to jack up a cameo from Sleepaway Camp’s Felissa Rose. The Last House might not even be all that original, either. In 2011, Cain directed another movie featuring Buzzington, Walsh, and Mewes. That film is called Breath of Hate. Here’s the trailer. Now here’s the trailer for The Last House. If you’re busy, just watch one—it’s the same thing. I’m not too hip on all the history, but this looks like a repackaging deal to me.
Either way, whether or not you tune in to see Breath of Hate or The Last House, you’re bound to see a perplexing and disjointed attempt at psychological horror. The funny moments are too forced, thereby weakening any “this is a black comedy” defense. The smart moments aren’t smart, while the death scenes aren’t worthy of the name. There’s definitely something rotten in the state of California, and maybe a good fumigation of Cain’s headspace is needed.