A gruelling nightmare awaits a young mother and her two daughters, when they set off on holiday to their remote family lake house, in Quinn Lasher’s ominously titled, He’s Out There. The pleasant getaway, Laura (Yvonne Strahovski) has planned for her daughters as they wait for her husband’s arrival takes a turn for the sinister when a sadistic psychopath known as ‘John’ terrorises them beyond all fear. This tensely gripping home invasion/survival horror secures startling suspense and creepy overtones remaining unremitting until the credits roll.
Curiously, Dennis Iliadis, known for The Last House on the Left (2009) and Blumhouse’s Delirium (2018) has been cited as director, the final cut however is presented under the name, Quinn Lasher, appearing as a first-time feature. This little piece of info adds an intriguing layer of mystery beyond the film itself. Did Iliadis quietly leave the project or has he opted to release, He’s Out There under a pseudonym so that audiences can approach it with a fresh mindset, omitting any expectations of his previous works?
He’s Out There is a sufficient horror film which employs familiar conventions from the slasher and home invasion sub-genres. There’s the remote old creaky house, creepy occurrences slowly building up, an abundance of red herrings and a protagonist who is forced to become self-reliant. Think Friday the 13th (1980) meets The Babadook (2014), as He’s Out There combines the notion of ‘the local legend’ that disappeared several years ago who happens to be taunting the family through an innocuous children’s book. The disturbing aspect arrives when it is realised that ‘John’ has been watching the family for a very long time, therefore the theme of a ‘planned home invasion’ brings in a malevolent edge.
There is nothing ground-breaking surrounding the film; however, Lasher successfully executes nerve-shredding tension in a ‘will they die? Or won’t they die? survival setting. The stakes are raised when the family are targeted, Laura battles with internal turmoil, as she must protect her children from the madman that lurks in the shadows while having to meticulously ensure she doesn’t endanger them through her decisions. The audience are put on knife-point with Lasher offering up moments that are outwardly blood-chilling, namely in the film’s final act.
The Plot is thin on the ground and character development comes secondary to the ordeal horror that’s the focal point. The presence of the children does make the situation even more heart-breaking however we aren’t offered a
full insight into the family dynamics. The mood is very sombre from the beginning, indicating a strained relationship between the married couple. We have the overworked father who will be running late for the family vacation and the harried mother who seems continuously on edge even prior to being confronted with the horror scenario. There is some backstory to work with but it’s not enough to allow the audience to become fully invested or to truly care about them. The situation itself could happen to any family and it would still be terrifying. Creating layered characters would have bolstered the film to become that more worrying for the audience.
Overall, He’s Out There is a standard horror film that plays it safe. There is nothing in it that hasn’t been seen or done before. Ultimately it is reminiscent of the iconic slasher movies of the 70’s and 80’s that had us shuddering in cinemas. The atmosphere created is evocative of John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978). The notion of fear is reliant on the senses, carried out with clever camera work supplying the impression that there is a presence watching and waiting for its prey. Not knowing when that presence will strike is what makes the film essentially gripping. This technique remains an effective staple of the horror movie world.
While it may not startle a desensitised horror audience, He’s Out There certainly could work as an introduction to newer genre viewers who are unfamiliar with the classics. He’s out there is a competent effort, offering up a traditional horror movie with a serious tone.
See the World Premiere of, He’s Out There at Arrow Video Frightfest 2018 on the Cineworld Main Screens on Sunday the 26th August at 3:30pm or 4:00pm. He’s Out There screens alongside, Joanne Mitchell (Attack of the Adult Babies), macabre directorial debut, short film, Sybil.