Monday, April 2, 2007

House Call

De Flat; erotic drama/ thriller, Netherlands, 1994; D: Ben Verbong, S: Renée Soutendijk, Victor Löw, Hans Hoes, Jaimy Siebel, Mirjam de Rooij

Dr. Roos Hartman is a single mother of a young boy, Davy, living in an apartment near the sea after she broke up with her husband. One night she gets a call from a person who just moans. Thinking it's a pervert, she hangs up. But the next morning her new neighbor Eric asks for her help to investigate the apartment of Mrs Veenstra since she is not responding. They break into her flat an find her murdered. Even worse, she was the one trying to call Roos for help the other night. Eric and Roos start a erotic relationship, but she finds out there are indications he might be the murderer. When her patient, Lidy, gets murdered in her apartment, Roos gets convinced Eric is the one. But he has an alibi. Soon, he breaks into her apartment, but she is able to kill him in self defence.

"House Call" is a very good film as an (erotic) drama, but a very lousy one as a thriller. The director Ben Verbong had a limited budget, a rather cheap script that imitated "Sliver" and didn't put too much effort into his job, but he still managed to pull the best out of it because of his talent for a mysterious mood and attention for little details. The movie starts cleverly, instantly pulling the viewer into it's story: Roos Hartman, a single mother and a respectable doctor, played well by Renee Soutendijk, gets a phone call in the middle of the night. Since the only thing she can hear are moaning sounds, she concludes it must be a pervert and hangs up. But later on she finds out the caller was actually her neighbor, who was murdered and way trying to call for her help. Also, the film is very liberal about it's heroes desires and lust. In one scene, Roos can be seen in her bathtub, masturbating. The only annoying thing that destroys this scene is when her little kid enters the bathroom and asks her what's wrong. Clearly such trivial and silly elements could have been avoided. The drama elements and the mentality of these characters were good, but once the unconvincing thriller subplot starts, the thing falls apart. The final showdown is simply a standard, cliche ending for a thriller, and some things are left unbalanced. Still, the underrated "House Call" deserves a better reputation than it actually got.

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