An Average Movie-Goer’s Review
Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post
I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.
Today we’re looking at 2021’s A House on the Bayou
A couple in a struggling marriage take their daughter to a house on the bayou for a vacation but quickly encounter two strangers who are more dangerous than they appear.
Is A House on the Bayou Scary?
A House on the Bayou is not scary but the main antagonist does a great job of being creepy. So overall you won’t leave A House on the Bayou scared of much unless you have a habit of inviting creepy strangers over for dinner despite the huge red flags warning you not to do it.
A House on the Bayou Full Plot Summary:
The film opens with one of our main characters. Real estate agent Jessica Chambers (played by Angela Sarafyan) sitting on her couch waiting for her husband, John, to get home.
Moments later John (played by Paul Schneider) walks in and in a shocked tone says, “Hey, you’re home early” which is never a good sign when seeing your significant other. Jessica tells John she knows about him and Vivienne, implying he’s been having an affair but John plays dumb.
Jessica reveals pictures she took of John kissing Vivienne, one of his students; I should add John is a college professor. John attempts to explain his actions but realizes “I’m a trash person” isn’t the best defense so he just apologizes.
Jessica says she won’t divorce him but he must end his relationship with Vivienne, not tell their 14-year-old daughter Anna about the affair, and the three of them will set out on a vacation in an attempt to work on their marriage. John eagerly agrees and leaves to pick up Anna from soccer practice.
Cut to several days later with the family including Anna (played by Lia McHugh) driving to the rented-out house on the bayou. Though Jessica isn’t sure who owns the house, her agency is handling the sale of it and in the meantime, the owners are allowing it to be rented out. Interestingly the owners of the house specifically asked the agency to have Jessica handle the listing.
Both Anna and John are shocked at the house but Jessica points out that she’s been showing John pictures of the house and talking about staying there for months. Hey, has the movie made it clear John’s a bad husband?
Inside, Anna lets their cat Tobi out of his carrying case and is warned to not let him go outside as there are coyotes around. Jessica then sets up several cameras to create a virtual tour for the listing. If you think the multiple cameras around the house will be an important factor in the movie… surprisingly, you’re wrong.
Later the family is by the pool and Jessica asks John to go to the nearest store, which is 20 miles away, and pick up some veal cutlets. Though he says he and Anna don’t like veal and would prefer burgers on the grill, he reluctantly agrees to get the cutlets.
At the store, Anna decides to look at some magazines as John looks for the veal cutlets. While reading a magazine Anna is approached by the 18-year-old Isaac (played by Jacob Lofland) who immediately starts flirting with her.
Through his questioning, Isaac learns that Anna is 14, her parents are having marital problems, and they’re all staying at a house 20 miles east of the store.
Meanwhile, John has found the veal cutlets but decides to not get them and instead gets the burger meat. John and Anna meet back at the register to pay for the items and they meet the cashier and owner of the store (played by Doug Van Liew).
He doesn’t give his name and later he’s just referred to as Grandpappy as he is Isaac’s grandfather so I’ll just refer to him as that.
As Grandpappy writes out John’s receipt, he overhears John tell Anna there were no veal cutlets and although he gives him a surprised look, he doesn’t say anything. Outside John looks at his receipt and sees that Grandpappy has left him a little note reading, “YOU ARE BEING WATCHED BY THE DEVIL”.
Instead of going back inside with a “the fuck you mean?” attitude, John decides to leave it alone and just never go back. Back at the house, John and Anna find Jessica on the second floor attempting to open a locked door using a hammer and screwdriver. Apparently, the owners left keys for all doors except that one and the room doesn’t show up on the house blueprints.
As John attempts to open it, Jessica asks if he got the veal and he tells her the store was out, like a liar. The doorbell rings and Jessica offers to get it, leaving the hammer on the kitchen counter.
At the door, she’s greeted by Isaac who says they’re neighbors and met Anna at his grandpappy’s store. As a way to welcome them, Isaac is there to invite them all to their place for dinner.
Jessica politely declines but Isaac says they were planning on having veal cutlets for dinner as the store just got a huge shipment of them the day before. Realizing that John lied to her, Jessica asks Isaac for his address and agrees to have the family over later for dinner.
Later as Jessica and John get dressed they argue over the veal cutlets with John having the audacity to ask her why she trusts Isaac over him. Isaac literally works at the store and John just got caught cheating on Jessica and it’s implied it’s not the first time. At this point, I wouldn’t trust John to eat a sandwich if he had been starving for three days.
The argument leads to a much bigger fight with Jessica telling John he broke her heart. John apologizes and promises he ended his relationship with Vivienne.
Downstairs as Anna waits for her parents, she gets a nosebleed and calls them down. The family decides it would be best to cancel dinner plans but suddenly there’s a knock at the door. It’s Isaac and Grandpappy who claim their oven broke so they decided the next best thing to do was bring all the food over and offer to cook for them. Jessica agrees and it’s cooking time!
In the kitchen as Grandpappy chops up some carrots, John asks him about the note he wrote on the receipt. Grandpappy says the devil is always watching and sometimes when people do bad things, it invites the devil in.
In the living room, there’s a bit of a back and forth as Jessica gets uncomfortable with the light flirting Isaac is directing at Anna. We learn that Isaac’s parents died of bone cancer when he was young and Grandpappy has been caring for him ever since.
Jessica asks if Isaac knows who owns the house but when he says he doesn’t, she points out it’s odd since they’re supposedly neighbors. But the 411 is over when John announces dinner is ready.
Things start to get tense when Isaac asks to light some candles and touches Anna’s shoulder as he walks over to the cabinet. But tensions skyrocket when Jessica realizes Isaac knew exactly where the candles were kept. Jessica asks how he knew and Isaac simply claims it was a good guess.
Isaac realizes he doesn’t have matches and Jessica agrees to look for some in the kitchen but requests John’s help. By the way, this means she’s leaving Anna alone in the dining room with the two strangers, one of which is being real creepy towards the 14-year-old, so what the fuck? In the kitchen, she tells John she wants Isaac and Grandpappy out of the house immediately after dinner and he agrees.
The two return to the table where Anna excitingly tells them of the trick Isaac just perform where he was able to light the candles just by touching them. Jessica ignores this and tells Isaac they need to leave immediately after dinner as the family is tired from the long drive.
Isaac mistakes this as Jessica inviting him and Grandpappy to stay the night but she corrects him and clarifies he needs to leave. Isaac says there’s enough room for everyone and reveals he knows exactly how many rooms there are in the house including the locked room they can’t get into.
John questions how he knew about the locked room but Anna has another nosebleed and faints onto her food as Grandpappy excuses himself to use the bathroom.
Anna awakens a few minutes later and Jessica and John once again demand Isaac leave. Isaac refuses and reveals he has the locked room key just as the family hear Tobi screaming from upstairs. Everyone rushes upstairs where Grandpappy claims the locked door was just open and Tobi ran inside before it closed on its own.
As Tobi continues to shriek from inside the room, John attempts to take the key from Isaac but Isaac clenches it in his fist and makes it disappear. The power goes out and John demands Grandpappy take his grandson out of the house but Grandpappy announces that Isaac is not his grandson.
The family hears what sounds like Tobi’s bones crunching as his cries stop. The power turns back on and John once again demands the key from Isaac who tells him to check his own back pocket. Ta Da! Worst magic trick ever.
John pulls the key out and attempts to open the door but Jessica stops him as she believes there’s something dangerous in the room. Grandpappy thinks a coyote must have slipped in but John doesn’t care and attempts to open the door.
When the key doesn’t work, Isaac jokingly says he must have brought the wrong key and then heads to the bathroom. Worst magician ever. Grandpappy tells the family to follow him downstairs as he has something he needs to tell them before Isaac returns.
Grandpappy clarifies that they aren’t there to rob the family but implies Isaac is an evil force that was inflicted on them due to John’s cheating. We then get the backstory of how Grandpappy first met Isaac. Apparently, Isaac just appeared one day out of the bayou so that’s anticlimactic.
Isaac told Grandpappy his parents had recently died and he had no place to go so Grandpappy just took him in, which feels illegal. Over the years or possibly decades Grandpappy became Isaac’s helper although he doesn’t say what exactly he’s helping him with and says he doesn’t know why Isaac doesn’t age.
John calls bullshit on the whole Isaac being a supernatural being but Jessica demands Grandpappy continue. Before he does, Grandpappy puts on a record in order to drown out their talking because you definitely don’t want a supernatural being to be able to hear you shit-talking.
Instead of music, the record starts playing a recorded conversation between John and Vivienne where John tells Vivienne that Jessica is forcing him to go on a trip and he plans on divorcing her. We then hear Vivienne and John proclaim their love for each other.
Jessica throws her wedding ring at John and declares that she is leaving with Anna. As the family all start yelling, Isaac enters the room holding a still-alive Tobi. Suddenly John decides to start accusing Jessica, Isaac, and Grandpappy of all being in on a scheme to humiliate him for his cheating ways but Isaac and Grandpappy give each other confused looks.
Anna yells out that she saw something run past the window and the family looks out as Grandpappy suggests it was a coyote or a wolf. We do get a glimpse of some kind of large animal running by but it’s too fast to get a good look.
Isaac reveals there’s a shotgun under a nearby table and tells John to go outside with him to hunt the coyote. John refuses as he thinks Isaac will just shoot him so Isaac decides to leave the gun with Grandpappy.
Once the two get pretty far from the house John grabs Isaac by the collar and is revealed to be the mastermind of this whole thing. Prior to the trip to the house, John hired Isaac for $100K to kill Jessica and make it look like a robbery but is now growing frustrated with how long it’s taking and with Isaac’s antics.
John questions how Isaac got the recording of him and Vivienne but doesn’t question it further when Isaac gives the playfully condescending answer of “magic”. Instead, John has an outburst and tells Isaac to cut that “voodoo shit” and just shoot Jessica in the back of her head.
Isaac asks John if he’s sure he wants to go through with this and offers to let him call the whole thing off but John refuses. The two return to the house where Isaac tells Jessica and Anna that he is in fact robbing the family and then locking them all in the weird room upstairs.
John displays some horrible acting and tells Jessica he now trusts Isaac will let them live if they all just agree to go to the room.
Though Jessica thinks Isaac is lying and will leave them all in the room to die, she doesn’t have a choice when Grandpappy says it’s either the room or a bullet. Everyone heads upstairs and Isaac unlocks the room but to John’s surprise, Isaac tells him he has to go into the room first.
As John walks in, Isaac closes the door locking him inside. John demands Isaac let him out but Isaac tells him he’s where he belongs.
Isaac turns to a very confused Jessica and Anna and becomes a therapist as he claims Jessica has been in denial over John’s years of cheating. The doorbell rings and Isaac suggests Jessica get the door while Grandpappy stays with Anna.
Jessica rushes downstairs, grabs the hammer she left on the kitchen counter earlier, and opens the door to find a shocked Vivienne.
Vivienne apologizes and says she got a text from John begging her to come right away as he was all alone in the house. Jessica realizes Isaac must have sent the messages in order to lure Vivienne there.
Thinking quickly, she tells Vivienne about Isaac and Grandpappy and tells her to leave and go to the police because of course phones don’t have service (how did Isaac send the messages?). Before she leaves, Vivienne gives Jessica some mace and says she was planning on breaking up with John but Jessica tells her to shut up. Vivienne runs back to her car and discovers it won’t start.
Meanwhile, in the house, Isaac tells Grandpappy to grab some gasoline and take Anna outside. John continues screaming to be let out of the room and says he’s not going to pay Isaac. Isaac reveals he doesn’t care about the money and suggests John take a look in the closet of the room. John opens the closet and as we hear growling, something lunges at him but we cut away.
Outside Jessica watches as Vivienne continues to try to start her car. Eventually giving up, Vivienne tries to get out but discovers her doors are stuck. Anna then arrives carrying a canister of gasoline with Grandpappy right behind her with the shotgun.
Grandpappy demands Anna pour the gasoline on Vivienne’s car or else he’ll shoot Jessica but Jessica grabs the canister from Anna instead. As Jessica apologizes to Vivienne, she pours the gasoline all over her car. Vivienne begs her to stop and cries out as Grandpappy ignites the gasoline.
Jessica yells for Anna to run and then strikes Grandpappy in the back of the head with the hammer knocking him to the ground… she couldn’t have done this 2 minutes ago?! As Vivienne continues screaming because of the whole being on fire thing, Jessica bashes Grandpappy’s head in and kills him.
Realizing that John has the keys to their car and she must go back in the house, Jessica gives Anna the shotgun and the mace and tells wait there for her to return. Why give away both your long-range weapons?
Jessica enters the house and loudly calls out for Isaac, immediately losing the element of surprise.
Hearing John screaming, Jessica heads upstairs and finds a wolf with glowing orange eyes standing over John’s body. I’d like to point out that John’s guts are literally hanging out of his body, he’s laying in a pool of blood, and he still has a full-on conversation with Jessica.
John asks about Anna, asks about Vivienne, tells Jessica that Isaac has the car keys, and, after being told that Vivienne is alive, asks Jessica to tell her he loves her. That last one was just in case the writers didn’t make it clear that John’s a dick.
Jessica closes the door and we hear the wolf attack John again, killing him for good, or maybe he’ll show up in a few seconds with a monologue. Meanwhile outside Isaac gets the drop on Anna, knocks her to the ground, and grabs the shotgun as it goes off. Jessica hears the blast and runs outside following Anna’s screams.
Jessica catches up to Isaac who tells her he plans on taking Anna as his wife and implies that he is some kind of demon. He then reveals that John hired him to kill her and says that John is the one who actually deserved to die. As he looks at Anna, she sprays him with mace in the eyes allowing Jessica to grab the shotgun.
Realizing he’s fucked up, Isaac tries to talk himself out of the situation but Jessica shoots him in the stomach anyway. As Isaac bleeds out he tells Jessica he was just joking about marrying Anna.
Jessica demands he tell her who he is and he says that he and Grandpappy built the house as a way to trap sinners and set them on the right path or kill them. He reveals he’s been alive for centuries and might be a demon, angel, or a confused kid because the movie just doesn’t want to commit.
Isaac tosses Jessica the keys and she and Anna run to the car and drive off as Isaac dies. The next morning Jessica and Anna are at the Sheriff’s office detailing the events of the movie but the sheriff doesn’t believe them.
The sheriff asserts there aren’t any houses at the address Jessica is giving them and that it’s only swamp lands. Jessica demands the sheriff take her and the two head out while Anna waits at the station.
A short time later the two arrive at the address and Jessica is shocked to see there is no house.
Jessica looks around and finds her wedding ring on the ground but doesn’t mention this to the sheriff. Instead, Jessica says there wasn’t a house, and the two leave. As they drive away, the sheriff tells Jessica she isn’t the first person to tell her about a disappearing house and asks her to open the glove compartment.
Inside, Jessica finds one of the cameras she had set up in the house for the virtual tour. Turning it on, Isaac appears on the screen and says he’s right behind her. Jessica turns around and sees both Isaac and Grandpappy driving up in their truck.
The sheriff lets them pass by and reveals to Jessica that although she doesn’t know what Isaac and Grandpappy are, they aren’t human. Isaac and Grandpappy essentially keep the bayou safe by killing the wicked and sending them to hell.
In return, the sheriff protects them. What the hell do they need protection from? Shhhh, we’re at the end here, don’t make this longer than it has to be.
The sheriff tells Jessica to embrace her second chance at life and never return. The film ends as Jessica returns to the sheriff’s office and hugs Anna.
A House on the Bayou (2021) Spoiler Review:
A House on the Bayou is okay and it’s almost good but sporadic bad acting, dumb character choices, and contrived plot devices keep it in the okay range. I honestly liked the main idea, Isaac and Grandpappy are supernatural protectors of the bayou and no one knows what they are but there’s an unspoken peace between them and the town.
Unfortunately, the movie tries to play too much with the idea that maybe they aren’t supernatural throughout most of the run-time so it’s not as entertaining. I also think this affects the horror aspect of it all, the movie could have committed to being a tense home invasion or a full-on demon/monster film but instead, it chooses to keep the audiences guessing what is actually going on.
The acting is pretty good for the most part but there’s a scene where Jessica and John argue and Jessica says John broke her heart that really displays the different levels that the actors are bringing. Angela Sarafyan is giving it her all in the scene (slightly goes a bit over the top) while Paul Schneider is acting like his accountant just told him he might have to owe some money this year. Neither acting is entirely horrible but opposite each other, it looks bad.
I hate to say it but I feel like Paul Schneider is miscast in this movie, and while that’s not entirely his fault because of the dialogue, his acting doesn’t mesh well with what’s going on. It’s only when he’s revealed to be the mastermind that he actually displays great acting opposite Jacob Lofland. But, the following scene where he tries to convince Jessica that Isaac will let them live feels like it’s ripped from an 80’s sitcom.
By the way, Jacob Lofland does a great job as Isaac, sure some scenes feel like he’s trying too hard to be creepy or edgy but once you learn what the character is supposed to be, it makes sense. To me, I think he’s some kind of trickster god or supernatural creature that is a bit bored with what he’s doing and is just having a bit of fun while killing wicked people.
Overall I recommend A House on the Bayou if you’re into stories of supernatural urban legends, looking for a movie to watch that isn’t entirely horror, and you won’t be paying too much attention.