Our House (2018)

I’m always a sucker for a very good ghost movie, and “Our House” is not one of them. The problem with it is both narrative and tonal, where it’s much too melodramatic to invest in the horror elements, and too horror to appreciate it as a tale of a grieving family struggling to keep it together. What we’re left with is a pretty crummy, rather monotonous supernatural drama that we’ve seen a dozen times in the past. Anthony Scott Burns seems to be aiming for a genre entry in the vein of “We Are Still Here,” but it ends up feeling more like a tame sequel to “White Noise.”

Thomas Mann plays Ethan, a genius college student who is working on building a small machine that can generate electricity cheaply and wirelessly. When both of his parents die from an unexpected tragedy, Ethan is left to take care of his young brother Matt and little sister Becca. All seems to be going as planned until Ethan re-visits perfecting his machine in hopes fulfilling his dream. Without his realization the machine begins tapping in to an energy source that’s otherworldly, and the trio soon realizes they’re being stalked and tormented by a supernatural presence with nefarious purposes.

“Our House” seems to be building to something over the course of its ninety minute run time but never actually delivers on anything it props up. There’s a device involving a clock the youngest child turns every morning, and plot elements involving a television and a doll, and nothing ever feels completely delivered for the sake of scares. They’re just introduced and then forgotten. What’s worse is that director Burns seems to position this weird red herring that perhaps grief has struck this family so much that perhaps they might just be haunting one another; almost like he’s creating his own modern interpretation of “The Haunting.” The middle child Matt sits in his parents’ room soaking in their environment before they passed, and younger sister Becca has a vivid imagination.

All the while oldest brother Ethan is slowly unwinding from his obsession to complete his magic séance machine. It would have been so creepy if Burns ever bothered to explore the idea that everyone here are so broken by the death of their parents that they might just be imagining things. And that would be well and good if the movie didn’t dismiss every hint of that by the time the last ten minutes rolls around. Ultimately “Our House” would have worked so much better as an examination of grief and its scary fall out. The paranormal elements just feel tacked on and injected for the sake of the genre pigeonhole, and once the shit hits the fan, the entire endeavor lands with a wet thud. There’s some potential to be mined here with the themes of grief, and at least the performances are solid, but “Our House” just isn’t worth the time spent.