Kate Moyer and Percy Hynes White in Our House (Image Screengrab from Trailer)

Our House, written by Nathan Parker and directed by Anthony Scott Burns, is a bit hard to define.

Based on 2010’s Ghost in the Machine, the film seems to be made of equal parts science fiction and paranormal horror with a full dose of family drama for good measure. In the capable hands of Park and Burns, however, the whole becomes greater than its parts in a film that is as terrifying as it is heartbreaking.

Ethan (Thomas Mann), a promising student at MIT, has been working to create a machine that will provide wireless electricity with his girlfriend/lab partner Hannah (Nicola Peltz). His world is shaken to its core one night, however, when his parents die in a car accident and he is forced to leave school to take care of his brother Matt (Percy Hynes White) and sister Becca (Kate Moyer).

A genius never stops working, however, and Ethan continues his experiments in his basement. It isn’t long before he realizes that his machine might actually be amplifying paranormal activity in the family’s home, and soon he and his siblings are engaged in a fight to survive.

Mann is quite good in the role of Ethan. His exhaustion is palpable as he struggles with his new role as the head of the family, the guilt over the loss of his parents, and his deep desire to continue his research.

Likewise, Percy Hynes White–who you might recognize from Marvel’s “The Gifted”, gives a beautifully layered performance in the role of Matt. He blames Ethan for their parents’ death but relies on him heavily for emotional support and validation when shadows take on a life of their own inside the home and dark spirits begin to threaten the family.

The two find common ground in protecting their little sister, and Moyer is the picture of open-faced innocence as Becca naively befriends the spirits around her.

Burns and casting director Millie Tom’s brilliant work didn’t stop at the family, however.

The supporting cast is equally talented, and Nicole Peltz especially stands out as Hannah. Not only is the actress stunning, but her every move, expression, and gesture is expertly placed as Hannah attempts to incorporate the reality of what is happening to Ethan and his family into her scientific view of the world.

Mark Korven, who previously scored The Witch as well as 1997’s Cube, provides a pitch perfect score for the film amplifying the tension while also subtly underlying the sadness and vulnerability of the core family.

Every good ghost story needs impressive ghosts, and Burns’ effects team brought their A-game to Our House.

The spirits in the film emerge from billowy, shadowed smoke which gives them leave to morph into whatever they choose to look like and ultimately ratchets up the tension because deep down, the viewer really has no idea who or what the beings conjured by Ethan’s machine actually are.

When all is said and done, Our House ultimately works because of its genre-bending strangeness. Its peculiarity and its subtle nods to films like The Legend of Hell House make it a must see for horror fans who love a good ghost story.

Our House is set for release by IFC films on July 27, 2018. Check out the trailer below!

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