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Review: Peter Mckeirnon’s The House That Henry Built

This morning I managed to put down Mel B’s new autobiography, Brutally Honest, long enough to watch the new short film from Slumberjack Entertainment, The House That Henry Built. I guess I’m going with a whole UK/Great Britain theme today! Many of you are familiar with the work of Slumberjack Entertainment, with its head honcho Peter Mckeirnon always delivering the goods with zombie web-series “Dead Town” and strangely satisfying shorts The Dog Walker, Swings and Roundabouts and The Quacky Slasher. The House That Henry Built derives from Mckeirnon’s typical in your face material while taking a more artistic approach; one that instantly brought me back to my childhood when stop motion animation was still the it thing. You see, The House That Henry Built would be great for children, if they were already incredibly damaged psychologically and needed a good bedtime story to wind down for the night. In this short, the narrator – voiced by actor Ian Finney – tells the story of Henry, who’s more Michael Myers than Christopher Robin. When he was very young, Henry “accidentally” killed his sister and drove his mother mad. Now, he hides away with his dollhouse and ponders how he got to be a shut-in and a lunatic.

Coming in at seven minutes in length, The House That Henry Built is a micro-budget short film produced with only £6 ($7.24 if I type it into a currency converter). This is mostly due to the film being comprised of a variety of still shots and panning shots inside a luxurious dollhouse, accentuated by a monotonous tune and Ian Finney’s voice over. Yeah, that’s my only complaint here. I would have changed the score at some point instead of forcing the viewer to listen to the same ding ding ding, ding ding ding ding over and over again for seven minutes. Although he was perfect for the job and also invokes a classic style of vocal performance, the score tends to overpower Finney’s voice and you start getting hypnotized by the jingle; failing to pay attention as Henry goes deeper and deeper into his torrid tale and psychosis. The House That Henry Built is written and directed by Peter Mckeirnon with Rod Hay, Kate Daily and Andrew Butterworth as supporting crew. Together, they made an intriguingly macabre throwback that furthers my theory that simple is sometimes better than balls-to-the-walls.

The House That Henry Built is like something out of the 90’s, and anyone from that generation, myself included, is going to enjoy this artistic, experimental piece from Peter Mckeirnon. It’s not going to be for everyone. I wager the majority of the audience it reaches is going to mark it off as boring or slow. When it eventually hits film festivals later this year, I think it’ll be appreciated best at multi-genre festivals and by older viewers who can enjoy a good story. The House That Henry Built is a calculated decay into madness; and possibly an homage to Amityville: Dollhouse. And if I’m correct, Henry’s darkest deeds and desires are immortalized in his dollhouse. Here’s another fascinating, memorizing and ominously creepy short film Slumberjack Entertainment. Well done, team. Final Score: 8 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)