Lots of people have called The Beach House Lovecraftian and it’s also had plenty of comparisons to Nicolas Cage’s alien infection fable Colour Out Of Space. I have neither read Lovecraft nor seen that film, though if you want to know what Lovecraftian horror is there’s a handy wiki page here.
I found watching The Beach House an incredibly tense experience, mainly because I couldn’t fathom Emily not surviving. I had to stop myself clicking on the end of the screener to find out what happened, so if you’re here checking out spoilers before watching it I completely understand.
Sadly she becomes infected, though not jellified. I know, I had something in my eye too, hopefully not a worm. I suppose it was inevitable really, after the CB radio conversation when she is trying to escape with Randall and she finds out that the whole area is overcome.
She’s up against a pissed-off planet, and nearly everyone around her is encased in gunk. (I’m now wondering if the goo is actually a joke around people turning to jelly when they’re scared, and finding they can’t fight back – while Emily avoids jellification because she does everything in her power to survive.)
Okay, let’s recap the last few minutes. With Mitch swimming off into the sea, and Jane crawling round the house like a cross between a zombie and the girl in The Exorcist, Emily and Randall take shelter in the neighbours’ house, where they find an automatic message playing on the TV about the disaster that has befallen the country.
There’s also a woman scientist talking on air about what could be happening. Randall is too far gone from the infection, and is soon overcome. Emily finds the house’s inhabitants in the cellar metamorphosing into what looks like a giant jelly slug. She takes some divers’ oxygen tanks and escapes in the truck out front, using the tanks to breathe while in the yellow fog. Driving through the fog, she speeds up then crashes into a tree.
Staggering out of the car, she ends up wading through a pond in the dark, then sinks into it. We next see her in daylight lying in the surf, her eyes white, smiling and intoning “don’t be scared, don’t be scared”.
I’ll admit I was disappointed in the ending, purely because I wanted her to survive. If the planet needs anyone its people like Emily: thoughtful, scientific, smart. Then again what is she surviving for, if the whole area and possibly the world is under attack (and a thick layer of gunk)? She has already heard that the infection has spread and she should retreat indoors.
I guess this is a conundrum for most horror and sci-fi films that see a planet overwhelmed. They’re a warning that we’ve finally used up our chances and this is it for us.
The question is, what happens to Emily now? why didn’t she “goo-over” like some of the other victims? Will the jelly people turn into giant worms? Are “we” incubators? What’s with the Cornish pasties on the beach?
Was each different phenomenon that they saw linked – like a medieval invading force (archers, then foot soldiers, the trebuchet catapulting with flaming rocks…) – or was it a series of reflex reactions by a natural and non-sentient world?
It reminded me of James Lovelock’s work on Gaia in the 1970s, his theory that the planet is effectively a self-regulating system involving the organic and inorganic, interacting to maintain a world that supports life.
I have SO MANY QUESTIONS and am also secretly quite thankful I won’t be getting a beach holiday this summer…