I had high hopes for Trevor Matthews. The son of a Canadian telecommunications billionaire, Matthews announced himself on the horror scene when he starred in 2007's Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, a fun '80s throwback packed with practical makeup effects and an appealing underdog spirit. By 2010, he had graduated to producer and writer, penning the screenplay for (and playing a small role in) The Shrine, a more ambitious and problematic movie that doesn't really work. Now Matthews has taken the full leap to directing his first feature, GirlHouse, about one of those houses wired for 24-hour-a-day webcam viewing (where subscribers can see girls showering, working out, sleeping, having sex, whatever) that comes under attack by a masked killer (played by Boston rapper Slaine) bent on slaughtering everyone inside.
Se7en, only in that movie it was part of the point: the victim's "sin" was pride, and she chose suicide rather than living life as anything less than beautiful. In GirlHouse, no such larger point is being examined. It's just a girl who would rather die than not be hot. Like almost every character in the movie, she is reduced to only her physical appearance -- and, by extension, her function as a sex object for male gratification (the only gay females we see in the movie are putting on a "show" for the webcam). In the world of GirlHouse, if a woman isn't going to be hot she might as well be dead. Actually, if she is hot she needs to die, too, because it's not fair to men that a woman be hot and not fuck them. This movie left me confused and angry.
Making matters that much more frustrating is the fact that Girlhouse is a well-made movie. It's technically impressive -- handsomely shot and sharply edited. The girls are all very beautiful and better actors than the run-of-the-mill slasher would suggest. Final Girl Ali Cobrin is very appealing in the lead even if a part has not been written for her (at one point she's asked on a date to go see Rear Window because VOYEURISM DO YOU GET IT?). The mask that Killer Rapper wears is upsetting, but that's mostly because it's right out of Tourist Trap. I don't necessarily think the filmmakers set out to make something as ugly and misogynist as the movie ended up being. If I give them the benefit of the doubt, I'm sure they wanted to find a way to update something like Slumber Party Massacre for the digital age. The ugliness is just a byproduct of them not thinking through the messages that their movie might be sending.