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He's Out There (2018)

On vacation at a remote lake house, a mother and her two young daughters must fight for survival after falling into a terrifying and bizarre nightmare conceived by a psychopath.


Conceptually, He's Out There is a simple play on a simple slasher trope. A young family go to their holiday home / cabin in the woods only to be terrorized by a masked psycho with a thirst for blood. But firstly - What a mask! Anyway.

While the setup is simple, writer Mike Scannell (debut) does a nice job of making it feel different. There is a lot of play on cell phone usage - but not only do we lose the trope of "no signal" but the antagonist uses them to his advantage. There is a real sense of fear induced throughout the run time as the protagonists are played with. And there are plenty of cool kills.

With a good directional eye, the holiday home becomes as much a character as anything else in the film. The woods and lake are foreboding from the very start - the director has an amazing talent for making the very sets live. The acting is pretty much spot on. Lead, Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid's Tale) does a great job of the protective mother with nothing to lose but her children. The two child actors cast as the two daughters, Anna Pniowsky (Light of My Life) and Abigail Pniowsky (Arrival) do a good job, but I feel that the director should have reigned their performances back a little.

There are, however, just one or two small niggles about the film that detract from its awesomeness. Firstly, and without spoilers, some of the character choices were close to stupidity. The choices made my mother in particular, aggravating. Also there is an injury sustained later on in the movie by one character which should have been fatal, and was played off as a mere flesh wound.

But as I say: Minor niggles.

The ending is pretty satisfying - and all around the film is worthy of a watch. Its scary in places, plays the kills nicely, and has an effective bad guy - and one that isn't transparent. Nicely done.

I do, however, have to ask. Who actually directed it? Originally planned for distribution under Screen Gems but dropped and later acquired by Vertical Entertainment, and at the same time the director listed as Dennis Iliadis (Last House on the Left) changed to Quinn Lasher. Having done some research Quinn Lasher doesn't seem to exist (more of an Alan Smithee) - and the film was clearly ready for distribution when Iliadis' name was still on it. Weird.

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