[Screen It]


(1997) (Parker Posey, Josh Hamilton) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Mild Moderate Mild Moderate
Moderate None Minor None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Moderate Minor Heavy Mild Moderate

Black Comedy: A man brings home his fiancé to meet his family, but their deep, dark secrets threaten the young couple's relationship.
Marty Pascal (JOSH HAMILTON) comes from a rich, upper class family that's never been the same since the JFK assassination. With his father disappearing on that same day, and his twin sister, Jackie-O (PARKER POSEY), going crazy, theirs is the definition of a dysfunctional family. Younger brother Anthony (FREDDIE PRINZE JR.) stays home to make sure Jackie takes her medication while their mother (GENEVIÈVE BUJOLD) appears to be slightly unbalanced herself. Thus, even though it's been twenty years since that day, Marty takes a big risk when he brings home Lesly (TORI SPELLING), his fiancé, for Thanksgiving. The family immediately has mixed reactions toward her. Anthony's instantly attracted to Lesly, while Mrs. Pascal tells her son that she'll never let the pending marriage happen. And the reason for that is Jackie. Obsessed with the real Jackie Kennedy, Marty's sister dresses like her, and even reenacts the JFK assassination. More troubling, however, is her relationship with Marty that crosses familial boundaries and becomes a little too close for comfort. As the night progresses and Lesly sees the family's true colors as their deeply hidden secrets begin to surface, it's questionable whether her relationship with Marty will survive.
A few teens might, as might fans of anyone in the cast, but for the most part the majority of kids will pass on this film.
For language, perverse sex-related situations, and an image of violence.
None of the cast members play characters that most parents would consider as good role models. Even TORI SPELLING, who seems the only sane one in the bunch, sleeps with Marty's brother.


OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
A strange little film that grows more and more bizarre as it unfolds, "The House of Yes" won't find a large mainstream audience, but should please those who like their humor dark and edgy. Based on a stage play by Wendy MacLeod and directed for the big screen by Mark Waters, this adaption retains its theatrical quality and its clever dialogue is its strongest point. Sounding very much like a staged production, the dialogue is witty, though certainly never realistic, but that's half the fun of hearing it. Many subtle character nuances are displayed through its use and that, added to the fun spooky atmosphere that's reminiscent of those 70's murder mystery movies (think of "Murder by Death" -- but not as funny), keeps this talky film from ever getting boring. From the opening credits where a young Jackie mimics the real Mrs. Kennedy, to the disturbing but not altogether surprising plot revelations and developments, the film is always easy on the eye and always interesting to watch.

It's no surprise that the film drew critical acclaim at this year's Sundance Film Festival and a great deal of that can be attributed to Parker Posey's over the top performance as the brilliant, but psychotic young lady. Completely believable as the troubled character, Posey's acting is close to award nomination quality, but she might not be recognized as such. Traditionally it appears that the awards ceremonies like mentally unbalanced/ill characters, but usually ones with an underlying sadness dwelling within them. It's certainly sad the way Posey's character is, but her incestuous, murderous behavior may put off the voters. It will certainly do the same with many viewers, but if you can look beyond that material, you'll find a film filled with quirky characters who are always interesting to watch. There are a few problems, however, and some viewers may place the "talky" quality of the film that we praise in that category. Similarly, the film's descent into troubling madness -- while certainly believable -- ruins the off kilter and campy fun present earlier in the film. And then there's the subject of the raging hurricane that occurs outside their home in the Washington, D.C. suburbs in late November. While this is a minor objection, such events don't occur that late in the year and that far inland (you'd think D.C. was a coastal city).

The hurricane's there just to serve the same purpose as untold numbers of thunderstorms have done in horror films: It's raining too hard to leave and the storm finally knocks out the power, lending a certain haunted house feel to the film especially with the unstable and unpredictable Jackie-O lurking about. That's part of the fun, though, as is the uncertainty of what's going to happen next which makes this an interesting feature to sit through. While certainly not for all audiences, "The House of Yes" is an entertaining diversion that we give a 7 out of 10.

Many will be surprised how this quirky film turns into an incestuous, potentially violent film and thus many parents may be uncomfortable allowing all but the oldest of teenagers to see it. Early on the siblings attraction to each other is noted, but we soon learn of an earlier sexual relationship and then get to see the two at it again. In retaliation/confusion, Marty's fiancé then sleeps with his younger brother, but that encounter isn't as steamy as the earlier one. Neither show any nudity, but there is a fair amount of sexual discussion throughout the film. Profanity is limited but does include three uses of the "f" word, and violence is similarly limited to just one final scene. Some teens may also identify with the troubling, dysfunctional family problems that permeate the film, and there are two instances where a gun is used in what is supposed to be a mock reenactment of an assassination. While most children will probably pass on this film, you should read through the content in case you and/or they are interested in seeing it.

  • Mrs. Pascal drinks wine.
  • Marty drinks wine while playing the piano, and Jackie comes along and then drinks it.
  • Marty and Jackie talk about their parents drinking rum and Pepsi while on vacation, and later we see the two kids (as adults) quickly drinking five shots of rum and Pepsi each.
  • After Marty's been shot, we see Jackie's bloody hand as well as Marty's blood-matted hair.
  • The many facets of this dysfunctional family showcase instances of both types of behavior. The twins have an incestuous relationship, and Anthony repeatedly tries and finally succeeds at seducing his older brother's fiancé. Their mother tells Marty that he can't marry Lesly because he needs to be with his sister (thus showing an inkling of her approval, or at least knowledge, of the incest).
  • Granted, Jackie's mentally unstable, but she is obsessed with the JFK assassination and reenacts it with Marty as an aphrodisiac for their incestuous relationship. She's also repeatedly harmed Marty when he's talked of moving out or having a girlfriend.
  • Some may see Marty's bringing Lesly to their home as having both types of attitude since he surely must have known what was going to happen.
  • Twice Jackie and Marty reenact the JFK assassination with Jackie aiming a gun at him, and then firing it (supposedly with blanks).
  • The movie has a comically creepy feel about it that's reinforced by the family members' behavior, particulary regarding Jackie.
  • Handgun: Used by Jackie during her and Marty's reenactment of the JFK assassination, twice during which Marty is shot.
  • Phrases: "Geez," and "Laid" (sexual).
  • Marty and Jackie have an incestuous relationship.
  • Jackie and Marty like to "reenact" the JFK assassination and use a gun that's supposed to have blanks in it, but twice that's not so (we see one of them).
  • None.
  • There is a mild amount of suspenseful music in several scenes.
  • None.
  • 3 "f" words (2 used sexually), 1 damn, and 2 uses each of "G-damn," "Jesus," and "Oh my God," and 1 use of "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • Mrs. Pascal tells Lesly that Jackie's hand was "holding Marty's penis" when they came out of the womb (as twins).
  • We see Lesly in her bra and underwear for a moment while she's dressing.
  • Jackie asks Lesly if she's "saving herself" for marriage ("...blood on the sheets and all that...") and Lesly says that she didn't. Jackie then asks "How are the goods?" (about Marty's privates) and also asks, "What's the wildest place you made love?" Lesly says that she can't talk about her brother that way, but Jackie tells her not to think of him as her brother, because she doesn't.
  • Marty, Jackie and Anthony briefly talk about Jackie sleeping with an actor and that he was "lousy" in bed.
  • The three then talk about Marty and Jackie (siblings) having sex when they were younger.
  • Anthony makes the moves on Jackie and they talk about sex ("What do you think about sex?" and about sexual diseases).
  • Jackie tells Marty, "When I was with Peter, I couldn't come..." until she thought of his (Marty's) face, and then asks if he sees her face "...when making love with Lesly."
  • Jackie and Marty have sex on a sofa with her on top of him. We don't see any nudity (due to the sofa blocking our view), but we do see movement.
  • Lesly and Anthony have sex, but all we see are them kissing and him undoing her dress (we see her bare back). Later, he asks how long it (sex) is supposed to take and asks her how long Marty takes.
  • After Lesly confronts Marty with his incestuous encounter, he asks her, "Do you think masturbation counts as infidelity?"
  • We see several quick shots of Lesly and Marty in bed (in the past, with no sexual activity or nudity), and then see him washing her back as both sit in a bathtub (again no explicit nudity although both are obviously nude in the tub).
  • Anthony lights up a cigarette in one scene.
  • The Pascal family is massively dysfunctional. First, Mrs. Pascal says she'll stop Marty and Lesly's wedding, and we then learn why. It's because Marty and Jackie have an incestuous relationship and to top it off, Jackie becomes violent toward Marty whenever he talks about leaving or having another girlfriend. Additionally, Anthony seduces Marty's fiancé.
  • Also, the family -- in their own weird way -- must deal with Jackie's mental illness.
  • Dysfunctional families.
  • The mentally ill.
  • Incest.
  • Talking about Marty's abdominal scar, Jackie says her intent (in shooting him) was not to maim, but to kill him.
  • Though not seen, Jackie fires a shot that kills Marty (we see the bloody aftermath).

  • Reviewed September 2, 1997

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