It seems like a just a few years ago that 80s style horror comedies were all the rage in indie cinema. The new trend seems to have turned to slow burn supernatural thrillers these days. I’ll be honest, I miss the great 80s revival. Films like TURBO KID and THE FP really knocked it out of the park when it came to creating movies that felt very 80s without necessarily having to look 80s. I’m sad to see the genre moving away from that now. So many recent indie horror movies are so brooding and serious. Honestly, it’s getting boring. I understand having a slow burn style if your movie calls for it, but so much of it has been an excuse just to fill run-time. Filmmakers like Jason Coffman are fighting the good fight, however, keeping indie horror fun.
Coffman’s HOUSESITTERS is the story of two porn addicted, lazy, and oddball best friends who take a house sitting job from a mysterious stranger only to find that the house has secrets of its own ready to mess up their good time. Hilarity ensues when a little monster called the Little Bastard shows up and starts eating the sitters’ guests.
Jason Coffman is a local filmmaker, writer, and critic from Chicago, which also happens to be my home city as well. I was very aware of Coffman’s work prior to viewing this film, and truth be told, he’s a writer that I really admire. I had only previously seen a (quite impressive) short of his called TAPE, so, I was really excited to jump in and watch his latest feature film. What I got to see was a nearly complete work in progress cut of the film, and I liked what I saw.
Knowing Coffman’s writings on the genre and having seen that previous short of his, HOUSESITTERS was not what I was expecting from him at all. It’s a fun and silly comedy with a gnarly little puppet monster. I talked about my fondness for 80s style horror comedies earlier, but those are not easy movies to pull off. Sure TURBO KID and THE FP were great, but so many nameless, forgotten indies try to capture that feeling and just end up coming off as obnoxious.
Thankfully, Coffman totally gets it and captures an almost infectious spirit of fun with this film. From moment one, where we are introduced to Angie and Izzy as they advertise their house sitting service, we know exactly the kind of humor were dealing with. It sets us up nicely for the ride we’re about to embark on.
Once we get to the house, the film really embraces the camp and we’re introduced to the evil monster, Little Bastard. Bastard is a small head and arms who is mostly sharp teeth and looks like a large version of finger puppet monster. It attacks the pizza guy and even one of the girl’s boyfriends. Only later do we learn it’s true purpose and what master he actually serves.
At a scant 60 minutes in it’s current form, HOUSESITTERS flies by, effortlessly moving from one ridiculous scenario to the next. The breakneck pace is punctuated by a nice fuck-you kind of ending that both reminded me of a Coen Brothers comedy and Michael Haneke’s Funny Games. HOUSESITTERS is a truly bizarre comedy and it embraces it.
Most of the cast does a good job in their roles in the film. Our leads are watchable and endearing, despite their characters’ many flaws. The real standout here comes in pretty late into the film in the form of the character of Greg played Jay Bidwell. He has such a knack for comic delivery, and I was happy to see what the filmmakers actually do to the character near the end of the film.
Jason Coffman does a great job keeping the scenes moving along nicely and never letting up on the movie’s speedy pace. He brings the film’s colorful characters to life nicely and makes certain the audience is never bored. I’ll definitely be excited to see what he does next as a filmmaker.
Some things that don’t work in the film are some obvious pitfalls for a low budget comedies. Some of the jokes early on fall flat. The humor picks back up as the movie goes on even though there’s still some misses along the way. The story, most certainly accommodating the film’s low budget, is a little thin and barely makes it to the 60 minute mark. Finally, the movie unfortunately looks low budget. We don’t see a lot of fancy camerawork on display, and the lighting in some scenes leaves a lot to be desired. Hopefully, the uneven lighting is something that will get fixed slightly in the film’s color correcting process.
Overall, though, I had a good time with HOUSESITTERS. I think fans of odd, 80s style horror comedies will find a lot to enjoy here. The movie’s exceptional pace and unique attitude make up for it’s low budget shortcomings. HOUSESITTERS will be one to look out for when it bursts on the festival circuit. I’ll most certainly be checking it out again.
Check out the trailer here: