Don’t Leave Home (2018) starring Anna Margaret Hollyman and Lalor Roddy. Directed by Michael Tully.
Okay, as the sole rep for the Irish on Final Guys, I felt it was my duty to watch and review Don’t Leave Home, a kinda gothic horror film set in the Emerald Isle. It took me a while to get images of Karl Malden telling me not to leave home without my Amex card, but the film gradually sucked me in. What’s the skinny? Here we go…
Thirty years ago, a husband and wife commissioned Father Burke, a skilled artist, to paint their eight year old daughter Siobhan praying before a statue of the Virgin Mary. Job done, said parents wake up one day to find Siobhan missing, not just from the house, but the painting as well. We’re told that Father Burke was oddly accused of her going missing and acquitted, after which he drops his collar for good and goes into seclusion.
Fast forward to the present and we find Artist Melanie Thomas (played by Anna Margaret Hollyman whom you might remember from The Den) trying to put the finishing touches on her upcoming art show. We get a fifty shades of Hereditary hot flash when we realize Melanie creates little dioramas of cases where people have gone missing. As luck (bad, mostly) has it, she’s made a diorama of little Siobhan’s fateful dance with the arts. A major critic trashes her work and she finds herself in dire financial straits and doubting herself, as all artists do, even when our shit is good and beloved.
Anywho, Melanie is contacted by Old Lady Shelly (Helena Bereen) and asked to come to Father Burke’s (now Alistair Burke’s) secret estate so he can buy her diorama and commission her to make a new one that will guarantee her some major domo buckaroos. So off to Ireland Melanie goes, where she meets Shelly, who bears a strong resemblance to an evil Judi Dench. Put up in a three hundred year old house, Melanie meets the queer Alistair Burke (Lalor Roddy who had a minor role on Game of Thrones, just like everyone else in Ireland and England) who asks her to make a new diorama of a similar grotto with the Madonna. Things get even stranger from there.
You see, weirdo Burke has some strange power that works through his art. He’s under the control of Shelly, though we’re never sure who she is to him and where she comes from. What she does do is gather freakazoid art collectors who like to wear powdered wigs and look like a gathering of ill-behaved lost souls from The Sentinel. Is Melanie under the disgraced priest’s influenced? Is she being drugged by Shelly? And what the hell is with the near mute butler who wears jackets two sizes too small? There was something uber Monty Python-ish about him and I kept expecting the bloke to burst out with some absurd proclamation.
I have to say, I did enjoy Don’t Leave Home, if only because I love all things Irish. This flick is all about mood, but when it comes to substance, it’s a tad thin. Director Michael Tully (Ping Pong Summer) would have been right at home back in the old Hammer days. He nails the dreary, Irish countryside part. The movie seems to me to be an ideal Twilight Zone episode, but there’s just not enough for a ninety-minute movie. The performances are solid – I dig it when someone makes a horror movie with an older cast. There are just some plot potholes that if they were filled, would have brought this one up to an eight. It’s currently on Shudder and definitely worth a watch on a rainy day.
Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. He’s a bestselling author of over 13 (lucky number!) books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.