by Brody Rossiter
Voyeurism is not only a cornerstone of the horror genre but our daily lives. From harmless lunch-hour people watching, to the sordid self-gratification of pornography, people like watching other people do stuff; if that stuff is sexually explicit in nature than you’re guaranteed to attract a wide and attentive audience. Among those tuning into the odd live sex show via various electronic devices, the vast majority will likely be completely normal men and women in the market for a cheap and arousing thrill. However, there may also be an extremely tech savvy pervert who likes to get his jollies by butchering people on the other side of the webcam – and that’s the unsettling premise which rests at the core of 2014 horror, Girlhouse.
Kicking off with a montage of low resolution porno vids, sleazy electronica beats, and a quote from notorious serial-killer Ted Bundy discussing how pornography may well have shaped his murderous tendencies, Girlhouse clearly looks to draw upon contemporary societies’ obsession with X-rated content and the relative ease with which we can access such content.
Quickly the viewer is relocated to late-eighties Alabama and a harrowing incident involving a young boy’s naked humiliation and a shocking murder that follows. The violent interaction between children is a gory and disturbing foreshadowing of future events, and a taboo that is not often seen in such graphic detail.
When struggling student Kylie Atkins decides to take up accommodation in Girlhouse, the home of a major adult streaming website, the start-of-the-art security protocols and plush surroundings quickly put her mind to rest about her new unconventional career choice. Her fellow performers are friendly and inviting, and even the stumbling block of getting naked in front thousands of global online viewers is quickly overcome. Unfortunately for Kylie, her rapidly growing fan base also includes the odd basement dwelling fanatic who isn’t content with just watching.
A technically impressive debut feature from director Trevor Matthews, the picture draws upon insidious slasher conventions both thematically (subverted sexuality) and visually (Handheld POV camera sequences) and marries them with the contemporary concern of never truly knowing who might be watching out there. It may not be on the level of the classic Hitchcock movies it references, but nevertheless, Girlhouse is a provocative and refreshingly well-written thriller that’s definitely worth streaming on one of those various, readily available, internet connected devices. Log in Loverboy.