Every so often, a movie comes along that defies convention. Now I’m not talking about movies that have the tacked on, ambiguously indie ending. No, I mean, really defy convention. From the very beginning, it’s clear that The House of Yes is going to be one of those movies, although you’re never really sure just how far it’ll go. I’m just saying with the opening monologue about Jackie-O (Parker Posey) dressing as Jackie-O with ketchup and glued on macaroni for brains? Yeah, you know you’re in for an atypical movie.
The thing that’s so shocking about The House of Yes is that from early on, it saves itself from the mediocrity of those “look how wacky my family is” bringing the fiancee home romantic comedies. Yes, it does feature a timid fiancee, as well as a certifiable family, but its about their relationship and their interactions rather than situational mishaps. Sure, it takes it to weird new places, but I can guarantee you, even as it gets increasingly disturbing, it never gets boring.
This is where the script comes in. It’s easy to say that this is probably one of the more memorable instances of writing in recent history (since the movie came out in 1997) and that’s something to be said. It has all the elements of dark comedy, which the opening monologue makes abundantly clear, with the added elements of camp and melodrama just to heighten the tension, with the most bizarre/satisfying wordplay. Seriously, sometimes it reads like something out of Oscar Wilde. It’s so elaborate and so rapidfire, but not in a distracting way. It gives you an idea that these people are intimate and know each other (after all, they should since Marty and Jackie-O are twins) and just adds to the bizarre dynamic.
Still, it’s just as much the script as it is the actors and actresses I suppose. Parker Posey is delightfully over-the-top in her performance. It’s impossible to imagine it played any other way. She’s charming one moment and then she can just turn it off instantaneously. Even Tori Spelling, who plays Lesly the unwelcome fiancee, is surprisingly fantastic in her role. She can play the role of the “simple girl” incredibly well, considering she’s never been given a whole lot of chances. Marty, played by Josh Hamilton, isn’t incredibly memorable, but he can hold his own among the other cast members, including a young Freddie Prinze Jr. who plays his brother Arthur, and a hilariously creepy mother played by Genevieve Bujold.
While I wouldn’t recommend The House of Yes to just anyone, it is definitely a movie worth checking out for fans of dark comedy and disturbing family dramas. While it does have its flaws (I might even say that it goes a little too far in certain places) it more than makes up for them with comedic elements. An odd directorial debut for Mean Girls director Mark Waters, this movie embraces it’s deviation from the normal in a delightful and disturbing manner.