[Review] Re-Home (Portland Horror Film Festival): Terror Awaits Beyond a Wall

Provocative, prolific horror filmmaker Izzy Lee imagines what might happen in the near future should a certain wall be built on the border between the United States and Mexico in her latest short shocker, Re-Home. Lee is no stranger to creating fright fare with a sociopolitical vibe, and this, her latest offering, continues that trend.

Renowned horror writer, director, and actress Gigi Saul Guerrero stars as Maria, a young mother who is falling on desperate times after the aforementioned wall has been constructed. She is reluctantly opting to rehome her baby Rosa (Scarlet Rodriguez), a new trend in that near future in which children are given new homes, as with pets. Future Horizons business owners Laura (Kasey Lansdale) and her husband Matt (Morgan Peter Brown of All the Creatures Were Stirring [2018]) welcome Maria and her baby into their home, offer her a hot meal, and fawn over the child. Something seems off, though, and a leery Maria will soon find out what.

Lee sets her tale in the brightly lit, finely appointed interior and exterior areas of a well-off couple’s home, where unspeakable horror is just a wall or two away, but Shayne Gryn’s unsettling score and Michael J. Epstein’s eerie sound design never let viewers forget that something is amiss. Lee’s dialogue reflects the prejudices that marginalized people face, and the hurtful words that can fly freely from smiling lips. She builds up the tension marvelously, and then lets loose with a disturbing climax.

The cast is great, with Guerrero (who helmed the upcoming Into the Dark TV episode “Culture Shock” ) playing the vulnerable, reluctant Maria wonderfully, and Lansdale and Brown giving creepy turns as a married couple hiding dark secrets behind their broad smiles and cheerful demeanors.

The horrors of Re-Home are twofold. The victimization of the less fortunate by those who take advantage of their situations is on display, and the more surface-level frights go for a classic macabre and unsettling approach. Re-Home isn’t an easy short to forget — but then, Lee certainly didn’t mean it to be.

Click here to see my reviews of some of Izzy Lee’s previous horror shorts. For more information on Lee’s work, including film festival screening dates, visit https://www.nihilnoctem.com/.

Re-Home had its world premiere at Portland Horror Film Festival, which took place in Portland, Oregon from June 5–8, 2019.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.