“Follows a troubled couple and their daughter who go on vacation to an isolated house in the Louisiana bayou to reconnect as a family. But when unexpected visitors arrive, the unity starts to unravel.”

Director: Alex McAulay
Writer: Alex McAulay
Staring: Angela Sarafyan, Paul Schneider, Lia McHugh, Jacob Lofland, Doug Van Liew, Lauren Richards, Rhonda Johnson Dents
Release Date: November 19, 2021

A House On The Bayou (2021) is a story without anyone likeable. It involves a marriage that is floundering (to say the least). It involves a kid that is neglected by her parents as a result of their squabbling. It involves two supernatural entities that are are ruthless in their methods of exposing the truths of the story’s main characters. A House On The Bayou isn’t going to have you smiling at its end, but it’ll have you feeling something ooze-like at the end.

Jessica Chambers (Angela Sarafyan) is a successful real estate seller and she has discovered that that her husband John Chambers (Paul Schneider) has been cheating on her with a women by the name of Vivienne Ballard (Lauren Richards). As a way to try and “repair” their marriage, the Chambers family travels to a house in Louisiana that is located in a very isolated region of…the bayou. The entangled couple are having tenuous arguments and their daughter Anna Chambers (Lia McHugh) is stuck in the middle of it. However, the inner turmoil of the family becomes secondary when the eerie characters of Isaac (Jacob Lofland) and Grandpappy (Doug Van Liew) invite themselves over for dinner.

A House On The Bayou is not a perfect movie by any means, but it has plenty of twist and turns that keep you distracted from the lesser moments. Sure, the world in the random room is a bit obtuse, but the reveal that John actually hired Isaac and Grandpappy to kill Jessica had me do a double-take when watching this on the train. Then there is the moment when Vivienne gets BURNED ALIVE in the car after just arriving at the house on the bayou. Did not see that coming! Arrives on the scene and she will not leave it.

A House On The Bayou goes very spiritual and it asks you to take a ride into the realm of devilry and endless evil. Isaac is portrayed as the devil. The mastermind of the chaos seemingly can transport to different areas of the house, bring animals back from the dead, and survive death itself. Isaac is obviously a religious name. It makes me think that Isaac is like the “savoir” of evil and the Grandpappy is God who has to live with the evil that is created and go along for the ride like a parent who is begrudgingly still loving of its offspring.

Take the leap with A House On The Bayou. I know that plot is a bit deep, and I know I just spoiled it some, but it is a solid ride.

A House On The Bayou is a vision saw to its full essence. The vision play be flawed and its execution may not be perfect, but the entertainment value emulating from a story that has a singular purpose is automatically greater than one that has been meddled with or watered down. Director and writer Alex McAulay wrote the movie Flower (2017) staring Zoey Deutch, and that was a movie that knew it was something crazy but then took 10 shots of tequila to went a little too far in its finale. House On The Bayou is a movie made four years after Flower and the improvement in McAulay’s writing is evident in his execution of his strange finale.

Angela Sarafyan is really good as Jessica Chambers. She is going for spoiled, scorned rich women vibes and right from the opening scene she is delivering that on a tee. She is quiet, stern and utterly deplorable. You can understand why John wanted to cheat on her. Now often can you make the person betrayed in a relationship be the most hated one, then flip it on its head so you want her to burn everyone around her alive. I mean Jessica literally does burn someone alive. This is the third movie I have seen Sarafyan in since learning about her in Westworld where she plays Clementine. She appeared as Maggie in Run & Gun (2022) and stood alongside Hugh Jackman in Elsa Carine in Reminiscence (2021), but this performance is above both of those.

Side note, is season four of Westworld good? Is it worth it?

I can not say that I remember Jacob Lofland from his time on Justified, or anything in the Maze Runner franchise, but his face was immediately recognizable for his role in Mud (2012), which is a criminally underrated Matthew McConaughey performance. Lofland is good as Isaac in A House On The Bayou. His best asset is that he has the creepy smile down pat. He knows what he is doing with that. That smile gives the sense that he has knowledge the Chambers family does not, and that is 100% true.

At the end of A House On The Bayou, Deputy Torres (Rhonda Johnson Dents) just states a matter of factly that Isaac and Grandpappy are part of the culture in her neck of the woods. They are a necessary evil to keep other evil at bay. Jessica doesn’t love hearing that, but she has to come to accept it if she wants to move on with her life and learn from what has transpired.

Movies like A House On The Bayou are a necessary thing in movies as well. These type of lower budget horror/thriller movies that have a unique vision and stick to it allow for movie freaks like me to more escapism than one thought possible. Again, I want to reiterate that this movie is by no means without flaws, but it has enough charisma to pull you in for less than 90 minutes. This is the type of movie you take home late in the night. You will forget about life for a while, reveal in the experience and have a couple snapshots that stick out. Not every detail will matter, and that’s alright. It’s the little things and the grander picture that will let a movie like A House On The Bayou be relevant in a certain cinematic universe.

STANKO RATING: B (3.0/5 Stars)

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