Anthony Scott Burns’ Our House (2018) has three good things going for it. One, the criminally underutilized plot device of paranormal technology. Two, the unforgivably often overlooked idea that what’s on the other end of a paranormal communication channel isn’t necessarily who we think it is, or who we want it to be, or who we fear that it is but want it to be anyway, just to give our guilt another avenue for punishing us—not if there are extradimensional beings who put on the personality traits of the dead to feed like parasites on the grief of the living. Three, the preternatural cuteness of Kate Moyer, who plays a precocious late-single-digiter. She might have been eight during principal photography.
Her character’s older brother and primary caregiver Ethan (Thomas Mann) has accidentally invented a device that peels back the veil between this world and the next, like the festival of Samhain, only with an off button. It’s as cool—and creepy—as it sounds.
But the movie is in a war of attrition with itself. There’s a case or two of inexplicable casting. There’s the rookie compulsion to show us too much. There’s the student-film-grade CGI made worse by the fact that it isn’t needed. There’s a strategically placed next-door neighbor who just happens to know how to hack the power grid and who just happens to have a dead wife by suicide. There’s a lab partner who literally vanishes from the plot.
By the end, Our House has become a possessed-doll movie for reasons that I doubt it understands (mainly because there weren’t any reasons). It’s like The Conjuring (2013) in reverse. Screen them back to back, and you get a vicious circle.