An idyllic, isolated house in the middle of a forested area. Absolutely nothing could go wrong.
House on Rodeo Gulch is a movie that works to subvert your expectations, even while making use of clichés. We begin with a broken family moving into a new house, complete with a moody teenager feeling betrayed and rebellious. As a seasoned horror fan, you’re handed every typical haunted-house horror symbol in a way that made me suspicious of the movie’s premise. You always think you have the film figured out, but director William Scherer had much, much more up his sleeve.
House on Rodeo Gulch having two female leads as the focus of the film became my favorite aspect of the film, especially considering the easy “out” Scherer could have employed with the big, strong army dad character available as a savior type. Without revealing too much of the film, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for Scherer’s direction in Megan Jay Simrell’s character. The relationship between stepmother Denise (Chanel Ryan) and stepdaughter Shani (Megan Jay Simrell) is certainly a strained and juvenile dynamic, justified by their inexperience in the situation, but a horror/thriller film exploring growth and change in the dynamic of such characters is refreshing.
This isn’t to say that the only novel aspect of the film is this dynamic, because Scherer certainly has a bitter irony in store for audiences.