Full of humor, charm, and heart, “Forever Home” is a wacky, sometimes messy comedy that is light on scares but heavy on creativity and fun.
It’s true what they say; the haunted house story can be seen as a metaphor for insanity.
You feel intruders in your personal space, voices when you are alone, and doors that are locked when they should be opened to you. You have no control just in the place where you are the most vulnerable. The call is coming from inside the brain, so to speak.
Of course, that perspective completely ignores what the ghosts want.
In Forever Home, a boisterous new comedy by Sean Oliver and Drew Leatham, our hapless homeowners are plagued by a cacophony of haunts, each with their own rules and agency. But as anyone new to the neighborhood knows, the trick is to find your place in the constellation and peace within the chaos.
When Jules and Ryan (Sammy Lideen and Drew Leatham) arrive at their new house sight unseen, they are shocked to find the place still furnished and the realtor (Colleen Hartnett) a bit too eager to leave the premises.
(WE aren’t shocked. The film opens with a scene straight out of Stephen King, where two plucky kids break into the place and barely escape with their lives.)
Jules and Ryan are barely moved in before Jules’ free-spirit brother Max (Cody Hunt) crashes into the fray and makes himself at home. Once these three settle in, the ghosts come out of hiding, including two unruly kids and the slightly addled Peggy (Shelly Boucher), whose gestures towards friendship are stymied by the giant knife sticking out of the back of her head.
It seems there is quite a collection of ghosts in the house from several time periods and walks of life.
Having sunk all of their money in the house, the hapless couple seeks professional help out of desperation, hiring a psychic (Alison Campbell) to cleanse the place. But all does not go as expected, and not all of the specters are friendly.
On the spectrum of horror/comedies, Forever Home’s spook-factor is more Scooby-doo than Scream, solidly in the G-rated realm with jump scares for the characters only.
That’s not to say that the film isn’t entertaining.
The film made a splash at GenreBlast, earning Best Picture, Best Actor (Drew Leathem), and Best Supporting Actress (Alison Campbell) awards. And it’s not hard to see why this infectiously charming flick resonated with audiences.
It works best when the actors are allowed to play off each other, exhibiting a chemistry that is earnestly, charmingly wacky.
The montages also highlight that energy, with a toilet sequence that is both laugh-out-loud funny and squirmingly uncomfortable.
At two hours, though, the film has a lot of plot to get through, and a lot of time is spent setting up concepts that don’t get a payoff. The Always-Dying Man was a dark note with no discernable purpose, and I was disappointed not to get an explanation for some of the stranger occurrences, such as the bottle-breaking.
Like the house itself, Forever Home is bursting with ideas, and not all of them are good.
That said, in an industry that too often relies on remakes and retreads, having a film chock-full of fancy is a refreshing change.
And Forever Home does send a message that becomes more true with each passing year, whether or not you’re still alive: people are still people, and cooperation and empathy will always get you farther than rejection.
At least until you can afford a bigger house.