“The SafeHouse” (2009)

Directed By
William Morroni

As a teenager, Nicole was gang-raped and force-fed cocaine by the high school football team. Now, she’s got “the bad man virus”, an illness that makes her date scumbags. Worse, she’s so strung-out, she’ll do anything for a hit. As one character puts it, “She’s a coke whore… Give her some powder, she’ll slob your knob.” And boy does she prove it! One day, she wakes up to witness her drug dealer boyfriend Jimmy blast an undercover cop. Frightened, she and her friend Kim devise a plan to break away from the gang. But that night, while Jimmy’s posse is killing and robbing its rivals, Nicole is found cowering in a public park by police and arrested. After she’s guaranteed protection, Nikki sings, reluctantly agreeing to testify against the gang. The next day, she and the two cops that booked her, Keith and Jason, move in to a house that was seized in a meth bust. Shortly after they set up camp, Nicole is attacked by an unknown assassin disguised in standard Giallo get-up. Is it a gang member come to silence her? One of the cops? Someone else? Or, is she merely experiencing hallucinations brought on by the coke withdrawals? Increasingly paranoid, Nicole perceives herself to be in a kill-or-be-killed situation. One thing’s for sure — this safehouse is anything but!

Thoughts (Possible Spoilers)
I wasn’t a hundred percent certain what to expect when I ordered this flick. In any event, I wasn’t let down. In spite of its shoestring budget, this one is enjoyable start to finish, with far better acting than I had anticipated, a sense of humor, and a well-written story that might get you guessing, well, in the last half-hour at least.

The SafeHouse‘s cast mostly comprises bad to serviceable unknowns, but its leads are great. Sure, we’ve all seen these roles before — Nicole is an addict, Jason a “good” cop, Keith a hard-nosed, sarcastic-as-Hell “bad” cop — but they make them unique, turning in good performances. The chemistry’s there, and their scenes together are easily the best parts of the movie for me.

The only actor I actually recognized was former pro wrestler Al Burke, who shows up for a bit part as a nameless cop. Some of you more astute low-budget horror fans may recognize him as Punchy the hobo clown from Killjoy 3, 4, & 5.

Compared to Morroni’s previous effort Little Corey Gorey, The SafeHouse is less ridiculous. Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say it’s not funny. A lot of the jokey dialogue made me laugh, but it’s more of a serious film overall — even though it starts off on a goofy note with an awkward, fully-clothed rape. Allow me to elaborate. A young Nicole and her then-boyfriend, a football player, are making out. When he’s pushed away for getting too handsy, the guy chants, “Team! Team! Team!” The rest of the football team inexplicably assembles, surrounding Nicole, then sort of just bumps and grinds without getting naked, hooting, hollering, forcing coke in her POV, shouting phrases like, “Everyone’s gonna hear about this!” and “Bitch, you love it!” The whole opening gang bang feels like a weird, WTF nightmare. Which it is. Though, it turns out it’s also a flashback. I liked it.

As long as we’re on the subject of Little Corey Gorey, fans will enjoy an obvious wink toward the end when it plays on TV.

A ways into the movie comes another favorite sequence of mine when Nicole rigs a hand-made hand grenade to an RC truck so the pin yanks out when it’s driven. She also makes use of a walkie talkie, super glue, and a second hand grenade. I was hoping this part was setting up for an awesome Home Alone-like finale where it turned out Nicole had booby-trapped the entire safehouse with hilarious toy-themed traps, but alas, it wasn’t in the cards. That’s ok, the real ending works well enough.

As far as effects go, there’s not a whole lot for us horror fans — Jimmy lops off an Asian guy’s finger and one of his cronies gets stabbed. That’s about it. But hey, this one’s an action/cop movie, so it doesn’t really need gore — explosions maybe, of which there is one. Like I said, its strong points are more so its leads and its story. And the scenes I mentioned above. And a boob.

Whether you’re a supporter of independent film or simply a fan of action/cop movies, give this bad boy a look. You can purchase your own DVD from thesafehousemovie.com (link now dead). Bear in mind, it was made for next to nothing. Don’t go in expecting Lethal Weapon or anything.

A Few Questions
Are door stops really enough to keep addicts from busting out of a house to get high? Yes!
Jimmy doesn’t know where Nicole lives? Weren’t they dating? He’s never picked her up?

The Verdict
Buy it and watch it.

Home Alone (1990)

This post first appeared on my old blog. I may have revised it and added new thoughts.