Tag Archives: Stephen Rosenthal

Schoolhouse Rock

House of Screaming Glass

by Hope Madden

A descent into madness when the protagonist is probably already mad makes for a very short trip and not a particularly dramatic arc, but director David R. Williams gives it a go with his latest indie, House of Screaming Glass (which is a great title).

Elizabeth Cadozia (Lani Call) has inherited the old schoolhouse her grandmother has used as a home. It came to Elizabeth on her 27th birthday, upon the death of her mother. We don’t know what happened to Elizabeth’s mother, or anything Elizabeth chooses not to share with us directly. The only dialog in the film is done in voice over, Elizabeth telling us pieces of her story, and she does not seem like the most reliable narrator.

Call, in essentially a one-person show, really is mesmerizing. But she has an awful lot on her shoulders and Williams’s direction is not always on her side.

Having a camera trained on  your face as you wordlessly morph from dreamy apathy to dread to horror to tears and back again tests an actor, and Call passes beautifully. It’s the kind of scene that could easily become the watershed moment in any film, horror in particular. In keeping with Williams’s “more is more” direction throughout, Call is put through this about six times during the film’s hour and 45-minute run time.

This is symptomatic of a frustrating lack of focus that mires the entire effort in unfocused, self-indulgent tedium. This is especially disappointing because Call’s performance is genuinely arresting, and because Williams drops a good number of seriously startling, impressive images of horror throughout the film.

A sort of marriage between Lovecraft and Judeo-Christian hauntings, House of Screaming Glass succeeds when it unveils gooey shocks of body horror and practical monster effects. Call’s awkwardly sensuous turn amplifies the horror, but the imagery either gets lost in the unfocused narrative, or the scene in question goes on for such an unnecessary length that you lose interest.

House of Screaming Glass could have been a memorable hypnotic fever dream had Williams pruned at least 30 minutes. It’s still worth watching—Call’s performance, Stephen Rosenthal’s cinematography and many of Williams’s nightmarish visuals are transfixing.