Girlhouse has a very salacious premise, but it’s smart about it and not sleazy. A killer stalks the girls of a 24 hour webcam show, and you’ve got no shortage of boobies, but just as much teasing T&A. It manages to keep the final girl sweet and chaste, always covering her chest and turning away from the camera, though we do see her butt.
Kylie (Ali Cobrin) goes to work at Girlhouse to pay for college. Gary (James Thomas), the Joe Francis of Girlhouse, assures her it’s safe and anonymous. We meet all the girls of Girlhouse and a number of the online fans, but it’s clear Loverboy (Slaine) is the creep, because we saw a pretitle sequence where young Loverboy violently retaliated against a girl who made fun of him.
The film has something to say about the modern porn industry. It may only be hitting the pro porn bullet points, but it is perceptive that viewers want to get to know them throughout their day. It’s way more intimate than just looking at pictures or watching a movie. It’s clearly complicated, probably more complicated than Kylie and Gary can express and that’s realistic too. Both the new talent and the cutting edge entrepreneur are still figuring it out.
I always celebrate lovely ladies for sharing their beauty with lonely guys. I’m also aware that many, perhaps even most, men don’t see women that way. The film is able to elicit just enough sympathy for Loverboy, but never too much. He’s still dangerous. Gary actually has a sophisticated backstory, one that can be expressed subtly without rubbing it in. Girlfhouse includes a relevant subplot about how to date someone when you see them do this work. Kylie and her boyfriend go see Rear Window on a date. Get it?
All the women of Girlhouse are fun. My favorite is Heather (Elysia Rotaru), the busty, brunette, wild, loud one. That’s right, I do have a type. Devon (Alyson Bath) was the number one attraction until Kylie got there, an insecure hot blonde who actually elicits sympathy when Loverboy comes after her. Janet (Chasty Ballesteros) is a fitness buff, and Kat (Alice Hunter) and Mia (Nicole Fox) have a surprising friendship.
This all builds to an intense final act that pays off everything its established about the house and the girls. It has a great riff on the classic “look behind you” moments of horror movies. It takes Scream to the next level. Hobbled communication creates suspense, with devices we take for granted. You really root for all the girls to get away, but you know how it is. Loverboy seems to have an unbelievably seamless mobile version of Girlhouse too!
The music is highly effective. The songs may be top 40 hits for all I know. I haven’t listened to the radio in decades, but it’s probably more discoveries that they could afford. It really works, and I know from the Screamfest Q&A that Slain is a musician who provided some songs, and the score is by tomandandy.
Writer Nick Gordon and director Trevor Matthews really constructed Girlhouse brilliantly. In addition to all the subtle layers, perhaps was works best is that they simply take the movie seriously. One could imagine a sleazy producer pitching a slasher movie in a webcam house, but there was actually a brilliantly twisted thriller to make, and that’s what Matthews and Gordon made.