Title: The Ladies of the House

Director: John Wildman

Starring: Farah White, Melodie Sisk, Brina Palencia, Michelle Sinclair, Gabriel Horn, Samrat Chakrabarti and Rj Hanson

People are often forced to contend with, and find ways to overcome, many obstacles that are presented to them as they try to realize their short- and long-term goals. Whether they’re just hoping to capture a moment’s worth of fun, or fulfill their life-long dream of being cherished and remembered by society, finding a way to conquer their obstacles in order to achieve those plans can be a difficult, but at-times rewarding, process. The new independent horror thriller, ‘The Ladies of the House,’ which marks the feature film writing, directing and producing debuts of filmmaker John Wildman, proves that fiercely holding on to a lifestyle and dream that doesn’t always reflect the values and ideas of modern day society can actually be a rewarding experience. With the filmmaker successfully making a unique independent feminist-driven horror film that showcases women forcefully taking charge of their aspirations, the project powerfully emphasizes the importance of striving to reach your goals, no matter what obstacles or prejudices stand in your way.

‘The Ladies of the House’ follows Derek (Samrat Chakrabarti) and his friend Jacob (Gabriel Horn), who go to a dance club to celebrate the birthday of the latter’s shy and inexperienced brother, Kai (Rj Hanson). After Derek convinces the brothers to follow Ginger (Michelle Sinclair), one of the dancers they watched at the club, home, the three convince her to let them into her house and spend more time with them. But when Ginger takes pity on the introverted Kai and agrees to give him extra attention for his birthday, he inadvertently becomes too aggressive with her. When the dancer begins to defend herself, Derek accidentally shoots her, as he tries to protect himself and his friends.

While Jacob and his brother tell their friend they should take Ginger to the hospital and explain to police that the shooting was an accident, in hopes of being shown some leniency in their punishment, Derek insists that they just leave. He assures them they won’t be caught, much less prosecuted, as the authorities don’t care about solving cases that involve victims in her line of work. As the three are fighting over what to do, Ginger’s three roommates and co-workers-Getty (Melodie Sisk), Lin (Farah White) and Crystal (Brina Palencia)-return home.

When Ginger’s friends discover their wounded roommate, who tragically dies in their arms, the three realize the perpetrators are still hiding in the house. After locking everyone inside, the girls’ true personalities and passions come out-they’re cannibals who have a fierce sense of protection over their home and family, and they take pleasure in killing and eating anyone who hurts any of them. After Kai quickly falls victim to Getty and Lin’s murderous ways, and is on his way to becoming the centerpiece of that evening’s meal, Derek tries to figure out how to escape. Meanwhile, Jacob realizes that his survival may be dependent on forming a personal relationship with the sociopathic and equally naive Crystal, who’s the most protected member of the female family.

As a first-time feature film writer, director and producer, Wildman creatively utilized his experience in the film industry, including being the former Senior Publicist for the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the PR Director for several film festivals across the country, such as AFI FEST and the Dallas International Film Festival, to intriguingly showcase the importance of emphasizing feminist ideas in movies. While the majority of villains in the horror genre are forceful men who target helpless female victims, the new filmmaker uniquely and fearlessly crafted three persistent female characters in Getty, Lin and Crystal, who are all determined to get, and keep, what they want. From Sisk captivatingly playing Getty as the strong-minded leader of the female family in the house, to White memorably emphasizing Lin’s protective nature over her friends and Palencia enthrallingly showing Crystal’s vulnerability in her quest to find someone who truly understands her, the film takes a strong feminist stance in chronicling women’s determination to take charge of their lives.

With ‘The Ladies of the House’ being made independently, Wildman creatively infused the thriller with stunning visuals that are strikingly similar to grindhouse horror films. While the movie’s plot is in part driven by the genre’s signature violent style, as it follows the women as they take their revenge out on Ginger’s murderers, the film interestingly and effectively only utilizes their actions as a supporting tool to offer insight into the injustices that have plagued them.

Cinematographer Beau Ethridge skillfully allowed the performers’ natural and authoritative reactions to the emotionally escalating situation around them to guide his gritty capturing of the film’s shocking nature. From the intimate close-ups he uses of the actresses as Lin, Getty and Crystal ponder their options and emotions that accompany their subsequent aggressive decisions, to the sweeping wide shots of the roommates carrying out their vengeance against Derek, Kai and Jacob, Ethridge impressively chronicled the women’s transformations on camera.

Ethridge’s noteworthy cinematography intriguingly emphasized the horror thriller’s production design by Adam Dietrich, which was created on a stage in the Dallas studios of AgorA Entertainment. While Wildman initially intended to film ‘The Ladies of the House’ in a real home he bought in Dallas, he smartly moved the female characters’ belongings to the studio to shoot there, which offered Dietrich more freedom in crafting rooms that were specific to each of the troubled anti-heroes. From Crystal’s bedroom being filled with dismantled dolls, as well as scrapbooks and photos of people she longed to be connected to, to the workshop filled with medical equipment where Getty and Lin torture Kai and the lively kitchen were Lin passionately prepares dinner for her family, the production designer did a captivating job making the women’s home feel like a safe oasis for them to be themselves.

‘The Ladies of the House’ is a clever and stunning exploration into how a group of women, who can be unfairly judged by others who refuse to understand their motivations and actions, fearlessly fights back to regain control of their lives. While the acts Getty, Lin and Crystals take against Ginger’s murderers are horrifying, illegal and excessive, and in no way should be excused or praised, their steadfast determination to confront people who have uncaringly misjudged and mistreated them proves what strong-willed women they are overall. Combined with the entrancing visuals the first-time feature filmmaker utilized, including Ethridge’s captivating cinematography and Dietrich’s revealing production design, which offered stunning insight into the character’s minds and emotions, Wildman crafted a unique revenge horror thriller with stellar, take-charge lead females.

Technical: B+

Acting: B

Story: B

Overall: B

Written by: Karen Benardello

The Ladies of the House Movie Review
(l-r) Melodie Sisk as Getty and Gabriel Horn as Jacob in first-time feature film co-writer-director John Wildman’s horror thriller, ‘The Ladies of the House.’

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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