Stephanie Perkins was one of my favorite young adult romance authors growing up, so I was incredibly disappointed when she switched to the horror genre. I’ve never been a fan of horror, but because I loved Perkins, I decided to give the book a chance. When I read “There’s Someone Inside Your House,” I was terribly underwhelmed and, honestly, confused. So, you can imagine my surprise when Netflix adapted it into a movie. The movie adaptation of “There’s Someone Inside Your House” is much stronger than the book, but even still it falls a little flat.
“There’s Someone Inside Your House” follows Makani (Sydney Park), a high school student running from a mysterious past in her home state of Hawai’i. She moves to the Midwest to get away from her scandal back home, hoping to start a new life. It mostly works; she has a great group of friends and a secret boyfriend. It all blows up when a mysterious killer starts breaking into people’s houses, exposing their secrets and then brutally murdering them.
I enjoyed the serial killer plot in the movie much more than I did in the book. None of the murders in the book seemed particularly scary, and I was often bored in the scenes that were supposed to be the most intense—like when the killer goes after Makani. The movie handles this type of scene really well, making good use of all the cinematic elements available with the medium. The sounds in the background—whether it be the unnerving music or the panting breaths of people running for their lives—really help to set the mood and pull a viewer deeper into the plot of the film. One particularly nice moment is when Makani is running through the high school. When the presumed killer pulls up, there’s quiet, ominous low brass music playing in the background, which stops when she enters the school. From there, it’s dead silent save for the sound of her breath, her rapid footfalls and the squelch of a knife entering a human body.
One scene that didn’t sit well with me was the second murder, of Katie (Sarah Dugdale), the president of the Student Council. Her secret was that she was a white supremacist who made an anonymous podcast explaining why white people were better than people of color. Sure, it’s plausible that a rich, white, very religious Christian girl in the Midwest would be racist—but there’s no critical commentary on race in the entire rest of the movie, aside from offhand remarks at the police station that cops treat people differently based on their skin color. It honestly felt like a ploy to try to appeal to the younger generation, but it fell really flat. It’s uncomfortable, but not in the way it’s supposed to be. I’m sure it was meant to try to prove that racism is bad—truly something no filmmaker has ever done before—but it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the plot, and the execution is overall bad. I don’t remember this part from the book, so either it was so forgettable in the novel due to lack of relevance or it was a new concept added to the movie to try to make it more politically relevant. Either way, not sure a horror movie about an angsty teen serial killer was the place for that.
Overall, the plot just feels really rushed. One of my biggest gripes with the book is that each character felt really two-dimensional; they all existed for the purpose of (almost) dying. The movie has the same issue. The characters feel a little more real—as we can see faces instead of just words on a page—but they are still pretty bland.
Caleb (Burkley Duffield), the football player who miraculously becomes friends with Makani’s friend group with no structure showing how he fits in, has no other personality traits than playing football and liking men. Almost every time someone talks about him, it’s to mention that he’s gay. The movie doesn’t even pretend to handle homophobia, so these comments just feel increasingly out of place. Ollie (Théodore Pellerin), Makani’s secret boyfriend, has no personality other than looking suspicious. We get to find out a little bit about his tragic backstory, but I honestly couldn’t tell you a single fun fact about the guy. Alex (Asjha Cooper), Makani’s best friend, does little more than look pretty and complain. While some of her complaints could be important and make a statement, like being treated differently due to her being a Black girl in a racist area, we never actually see this moment come to life. It’s more performative words in a script that does not address racism at all.
That being said, I imagine it conforms to horror tropes pretty well. As mentioned earlier, the actual serial killer scenes are impressive and nerve-wracking. Makani also has a great “final girl” moment as she tracks the serial killer. In classic high school movie fashion, the film ends at graduation, with a sea of smiling teens.
“There’s Someone Inside Your House,” both in book and film, is rather unremarkable. The plot is forgettable, the characters are two-dimensional and nothing new is brought to the table. But it’s October, the season of scary movies. I wouldn’t put this at the top of your list, but there are definitely worse ways to kill an hour and a half.