Studio: MTI Home Video
Director: Jared Cohn
Writer: Jared Cohn
Producer: Gabriel Campisi, Demetrius Stear, Jared Cohn, David Sterling
Stars: Steve Richard Harris, Sara Malakul Lane, Demetrius Stear, Katherine Flannery, Amanda Ruth Ritchie, Cara Mitsuko, Angela Nicholas, Julian Bane, Todd V. Carroll
One year after his pregnant wife’s tragic death, haunting visions cause a struggling writer to question his sanity.
Playwright Russell Brody lost his pregnant wife Estella in a tragic household accident one year ago. Ever since, he has been trapped in a haze of alcohol and writer’s block that his close friend and creative partner David can’t shake him out of.
Adding to Russell’s ongoing stress is the persistent problem of his sister-in-law Samantha. Samantha’s psychosis has kept her bedridden upstairs for years, but increasingly violent outbursts have her nurse Grace ready to call it quits.
David’s suggestion for Russell to get back on track is to reconnect with his former mistress Lucy. Suddenly seeing disturbing hallucinations of a ghostly woman haunting his home, Russell agrees companionship might do his mind some good. That ghostly woman has other ideas about Russell’s romance, however. Along with Samantha and the seemingly sinister spirit, Russell soon has to contend with bloody omens as well as murder when people connected to him start disappearing.
What would you rather see in an 80-minute horror/thriller? Scenes carefully crafted to create story, suspense, scares, maybe all three at once? Or time-killing sequences of someone performing menial chores, typing on a laptop, swigging beer after beer, even going to the toilet?
In the super highly unlikely event that the latter is preferred, you’re in luck. I don’t know how many minutes of “The Domicile” feature Russell pacing, shuffling around, walking in and out of rooms, going up and down staircases, etc., but it is more than any reasonably patient person can put up with.
It’s one thing for a movie to be bad. It’s another thing to be boring. To be both is simply inexcusable in this day and age, and that sums up “The Domicile.”
“The Domicile” is director Jared Cohn’s fifteenth feature in three years. Of the handful I’ve seen, it appears the appeal for producers is Cohn’s ability to shoot quickly, cheaply, and competently enough to churn out forgettable, formulaic chillers for Redbox and VOD to chew up and spit out. This assembly line attitude takes a terrible toll on slapdash scripts that don’t care enough to make sense, much less be anything other than derivatively dull.
When Russell begins having supernatural experiences, he goes down the predictable path of conducting online research using Google. Except the first two things he looks up are the words “paranormal” and “ghost,” reading their definitions aloud as if he has never heard either term before.
When it comes time for the climax to deliver a dump of exposition explaining what was really going on, a key character’s dialogue gets confusingly garbled. It’s 50/50 whether this is an unfortunate coincidence or an intentional move to cover up that the plot couldn’t figure itself out.
Russell’s psychotic sister-in-law Samantha who speaks to a spirit in the house? Russell commits her to an institution in the middle of the movie and she is never seen again. A brief interruption by Russell’s pushy agent Bonnie? Exactly that. Two visits from the same police officer concerned about Russell’s drinking? The fate of nurse Grace? The nosy neighbor next door? Russell’s wife being pregnant with twins? Everything in the movie is built to distract from the fact that maybe eight minutes of material exists and the rest is merely filler that doesn’t amount to anything.
Dialogue talks itself in circles as another stalling tactic. Here is one exchange of repeated words composing inconsequential lines:
“Stop, alright? Just stop.”
“Just, just stop. Okay? … I just need to be in my own space.”
“Oh, you need to be in your own space?”
“What are you doing? I didn’t ask for your help, okay?”
“Oh, you didn’t ask for my help? I’m trying to light a fire under your ass!”
“Light a fire under my ass?”
“Why don’t you mind your own business, okay?”
“Oh, I need to mind my own business, huh?”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Why don’t you do something?”
“I’m not gonna get sucked into this, alright? You just back off.”
“Back off, huh?”
“Just keep your hands to yourself. Back off, okay?”
“Huh? Do something! Huh?”
I’ll rephrase my earlier question. Would you rather see an original effort with imaginative personalities, thoughtfully composed moments, and memorably frightful surprises? Or something flatly functional with rushed writing, inert energy, and a comically awful effect of bloody babies ripped from a womb? “The Domicile” has one of those two options covered.
Review Score: 15