To most of the world, the idea of a visit to one’s grandmother’s house gets the heart pumping… but more because of the upcoming awesome snacks than any expected bloodshed. In Les Mahoney’s Hitchcockian thriller, At Granny’s House, you’re much more likely to get a little of the former and a whole lot of the latter.
Directed, written, produced and starring Les Mahoney (Mike Case in: The Big Kiss Off 2013), At Granny’s House stars PopHorror favorite Bill Oberst, Jr. as Detective Boarstag, as well as Rachel Alig (Lori, Sheedy, F*** You 2015), Glenda Morgan Brown (Angel’s mother in the Angel TV series) and Laura Lee (Casting JonBenet 2017). The film was co-produced by Mahoney’s wife, Tammy Ridenour (Mike Case in: The Big Kiss Off 2013).
Marion Rogers (Granny), an elderly lady in the small town of Haley, reluctantly accepts the mysterious Rebecca Torrance as her live-in caregiver, but eventually the two form a strong friendship. Rebecca soon sells Granny on the idea of turning the house into a guest house for travelers looking for free accommodations, which, in turn, leads to revealing Rebecca’s dark and fatal secret. A strange love triangle forms when Rebecca and Ted, a guest at the house, fall in love. This leads to a violent confrontation that will forever change the lives of all the residents At Granny’s House. A typical Midwest house. A sweet little old lady. When a caretaker moves in to help out, Granny’s house becomes a macabre place of death – and love.
At Granny’s House is described as a Hitchcockian thriller, and that’s not only because of the film’s theme. There are several shout-outs to the influential director and his work, including:
- The name of the film’s police presence, Boarstag, is an anagram of Arbogast, which was the name of the detective from 1960’s Psycho.
- The character Marion Rogers, AKA Granny, was also named after a Psycho character – Marion Crane.
- The film’s main character, Rebecca, was named after Hitchcock’s first feature length film, Rebecca, that came out in 1940.
- Boarstag and Ted’s fight scene was styled after the classic fight scene in Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain (1966).
- The same way the Master of Suspense himself appeared in all of his movies, director Les Mahoney’s wife, Tammy Ridenour, has appeared in all of his. In At Granny’s House, she plays a woman walking a dog.
- Someone in Granny’s family was into in flight bird taxidermy, just like Psycho’s Norman Bates. Rebecca even took the taxidermied birds with her when she changed bedrooms.
- There’s a shot of Ted, hiding in a dark room, staring through a hole in a wall at people who don’t know they’re there, like Norman did when he watched Marion in her room in Psycho.
The story of the love triangle between an elderly woman, a middle aged man and a young woman doesn’t sound like it should work at all, but it does in At Granny’s House. The elderly Marion loved her caretaker, Rebecca, like a daughter, especially with the way her actual son, Frank, treated her. Rebecca loved Marion right back. She also loved Ted, the man she convinced to murder with just one look. And Ted loved Rebecca. Together, they all love to murder the people who stay at Marion’s home after leaving them a message on FreeBed.com. Why? Who the hell knows! But it does make you think before accepting something that seems a little too good to be true.
The music in the film had a great Hitchcockian vibe, as did the acting. Some may call it stilted, but I saw it as a tribute to the theatrical acting in films directed by the Master of Suspense. All three of the main actors were fantastic in their roles, despite the fact that it was sometimes unclear to me why they were making the decisions they made.
What Doesn’t Work
As I mentioned above, it was sometimes unclear as to why the actors did the things they did. Maybe the editing was too tight? Maybe I missed something? Or a few somethings? Some questions I had: Why was Rebecca attracted to Ted, who was obviously much older than her? Why would anyone choose to open up their home to strangers without charging them? Who knows who’s going to show up on your doorstep – especially if they’re broke enough to need a free bed. Why did Marion allow the murders to go on in her home, when she had absolutely no problem with the people being killed? What was the deal with covering everyone in plaster? Last but not least, but why is the film called At Granny’s House when there were no grandchildren anywhere, not even in pictures?
There were also way too man sex scenes between Ted and Rebecca. We get it! We don’t need to see it over and over. They also should have given Marion a more matronly hairstyle. The cut she had made her look much younger and not nearly as prone to the “simple old lady” syndrome. This is minor, but I noticed that, in a few spots, the sound was a bit off. Not a big deal, but I did notice it.
I thought At Granny’s House was an original film and a very cool homage to Alfred Hitchcock, despite the fact that I was a bit confused as why the characters made certain choices. The film is available on DVD and VOD through Indie Rights, so check it out if you get the chance.