Found-footage has been done, and done again – but this film achieves a very mature balance of the handheld style with traditional cinematography. When we take a moment to realise we are not too far from an era where everyone’s smartphone camera is capable of capturing HD footage, it presents interesting questions about the future of this sub-genre. Directors in this democratised age of filmmaking will be forced to find new ways to make found-footage engaging, and Wolanin is a great indie example of someone embracing this shift. The picture is clear, sharp and bright – there’s no hiding shocks behind grainy filters. And it makes the shocks even more effective!
There’s a twist in this one, which we won’t spoil – but it manages to catch viewers by surprise and completely flip the atmosphere of the film. It gives its audience a more challenging and complex film than they originally signed up for, and gives the characters depth not normally seen in a piece this short. There could be some comparisons made with franchises like Scream and The Purge, the new age of self-indulgent slashers focused on gratification rather than vengeance. The actors provide a great performance to cement the film in this new age of horror, giving a freshness to Cleaning House.
Andrea Wolanin also doesn’t shy away from brutality, which veers between the very gritty and occasional horror fan service with brief, campy gore. There’s a smooth switch between both styles that catches the viewer by surprise – either to provoke laughter or uneasiness – and both are effective here.
Cleaning House is the third short film by Andrea Wolanin, and she’s becoming a name to watch in indie horror with talent showing in a variety of horror sub-genres. In found-footage, this is a great example of the genre done right; and we’ll look forward to seeing more from this director!