Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: It’s Love Week at The A.V. Club, so we’ve followed our hearts and lined up a slate of unconventional love stories.
The House Of Yes (1997)
As a chipper woman nicknamed Jackie O, Parker Posey rampages through The House Of Yes like a screwball heroine, merrily bent on upending the status quo in the name of her personal devotions and desires. But the object of her devotion (apart from dressing up as Jackie Onassis) isn’t especially available: It’s her twin brother Marty (Josh Hamilton), who has just arrived home for Thanksgiving with an unexpected fiancée, Lesly (Tori Spelling). Posey bites into the staged but snappy dialogue and spits it out in her low but chipper lilt, bantering and insinuating. She makes a disturbed, childish, obsessive character almost glorious in her determination. The rest of her family, including her mother (Geneviève Bujold) and younger brother (Freddie Prinze Jr.), can barely hope to control her, opting instead to hide the kitchen knives and retreat to other parts of their gigantic house.
In reuniting Posey with Hamilton, the film places two alums of Noah Baumbach’s Kicking And Screaming opposite two oft-derided performers who do surprisingly strong work here—for whatever it’s worth, Prinze and Spelling have never been better. Hamilton and Spelling don’t really make a convincing couple, but of course when Bujold says that two characters in the movie “belong to each other,” she’s not talking about Marty and Lesly. The film hinges on a revelation that isn’t really a shock; rather, the suspense comes from wondering how, exactly, it will come out, and how the characters—even those who already know about it—will react.
Mark Waters, adapting Wendy MacLeod’s play, doesn’t “open up” the material beyond using the cavernous house and darker lighting to submerge his actors’ bodies in shadows for certain scenes, sometimes only letting their faces shine through. The House Of Yes could easily play as a horror movie, and while it probably doesn’t qualify as a romance, per se, Waters and the actors succeed in making it work as a love story (albeit a twisted one that recalls a real-life Addams Family). It offers a kind of love, anyway, in the form of siblings who will not or cannot let each other go.
Availability: The House Of Yes is available on DVD, which can be obtained from your local video store/library, or to rent or purchase from the usual digital outlets. It’s also currently streaming on Netflix.